CD: Saudade: A Portuguese Songbook

Excerpts from Journal of Singing review:

Every so often a recording comes along that reveals a rich musical legacy largely unknown to the rest of us. Amanda Cole’s Saudade: A Portuguese Songbook is such a release, and anyone who cares about art song and enjoys exploring its vast vistas needs to own this wonderful recording.

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Amanda Cole is a skilled and assured mezzo soprano from New Zealand, and her voice is colorful and lovely. She brings interpretive warmth and insight to every song here, from the most intricate and complex to the most simple and spare.

One has to appreciate the easy flow with which she sings these songs, and for how singable she makes this language sound. Sandra Crawshaw handles the piano accompaniments with aplomb.

The songs themselves are fascinating and they are given exemplary performances, but it is the comprehensive attention to detail in other matters of presentation that makes this recording so uncommonly satisfying. Ms. Cole offers up thirty-four songs with full texts and translations, composer and poet biographies, and various program notes to explain certain textual references that the typical listener is otherwise unlikely to understand. She also shares some interesting information about the turbulent history of Portugal, which is a valuable addition to her notes since there are numerous references to that history in these songs. Even more helpful is an essay titled “Saudade and Song,” which explains what the title of the disk is all about. Saudade, according to Cole, is “a particularly Portuguese concept and sentiment” that springs out of a collective, cultural sense of longing and yearning for pleasures which either once existed and have faded from view, or which never existed in the first place but have been desperately desired all the same.