NINNA NANNA: Lullabies by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Chaminade, Puccini, De Falla, Milhaud
This collection of 17 lullabies constitutes a particularly charming selection of songs for children, songs about children and indeed songs to send them to sleep. Alongside old favourites such as Wiegenlieder by Schubert, Brahms and Reger, Letizia Calandra has programmed much less frequently encountered examples of the genre.
The album opens with two lullabies by Vincenzo Davico (1889-1969), a one-time student of Reger who wrote in a direct and appealing idiom. These form part of a minicycle of songs, Ninna nanne popolaresche, completed in the penultimate track. There are one or two older works by Merula and Mozart, but by and large the collection focuses on the 20th century, with memorable melodies and tender expressions by Puccini, Chaminade and Tosti.
There are also two lullabies by another lesser-known Italian composer of the last century, Anna Filippone Del Bono. The first was written for the birth of her grandson Lello, while the second, the Ninna nanna di guerra, is a more lyrical piece in which the instrumental part and vocal line are deliberately separate, with a text full of echoes of the First World War and a sense of ineluctable sadness.
The delight of this recording owes much to the art of soprano Letizia Calandra, who interprets the individual songs with great intelligence and empathy, delicately differentiating between the moods and intentions of the various composers. A graduate of the Accademia della Santa Cecilia in Rome, Calandra has worked with many of Italy’s foremost early-music directors such as Diego Fasolis and Claudio Cavina.