CD Review | Erin Morley, Rose in Bloom, Orchid Classics, 2024


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Rose in Bloom

Erin Morley, soprano; Gerald Martin Moore, piano

Orchid Classics, 2024

Erin Morley Rose in Bloom

One of today’s most in-demand lyric coloratura sopranos, Erin Morley sings roles like Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Cunegonde in Candide and Gilda in Rigoletto at The Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera and Munich’s Bavarian State Opera. Rose in Bloom is her debut recital disc alongside pianist Gerald Martin Moore. It centres on floral themes in songs dating from the early 19th century to the current day.

Morley’s consummate mastery of high, florid music ensures there are inevitably several songs representing composers’ penchant to equate piping coloratura with bird song, as well casting the net a little wider to include flying insects. In that vein, the opening track, Camille Saint-Saëns’s “La Libellule” (“The Dragonfly”) charts the insect’s path with delicate vocal trills and a concluding Spanish-inspired piano coda. The same composer’s vocalise “Le rossignol et la rose” (“The Nightingale and the Rose”) is reminiscent of the famous “Bell Song” from Delibes’s opera, Lakmé. Throughout, Morley handles virtuosic leaps, scales and high notes beautifully, imbuing even the sweetest of vocal bonbons with taste and artistry.

The recording’s centrepiece is American composer Ricky Ian Gordon’s Huit Chansons de Fleurs, setting texts by poets such as William Wordsworth, Dorothy Parker and Gordon himself. The songs are representative of the 20th-century American school of pleasant, tonal vocal writing. Morley differentiates their varying moods from the quirky waltz rhythms of Parker’s “One Perfect Rose” to the haunting hummed vocalise in “Peonies at Dusk.” 

The recital ends on a pair of literal high notes. The title track from Sir Arthur Sullivan’s opera The Rose of Persia, includes the first airing of a cadenza composed for its original soprano Ellen Beach Yaw. Finally, Morley and Martin Moore deliver heady nostalgia in Ivor Novello’s 1945 song “We’ll Gather Lilacs” in which Morley’s final high note encapsulates all the sadness and regret of post-war England. 


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