03 Renee Fleming Nezet SeguinVoice of Nature: The Anthropocene
Renée Fleming; Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Decca Classics (deccaclassics.com/de/kuenstler/reneefleming)

Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene is another album responding to the devastating current pandemic. According to celebrated veteran American opera diva Renée Fleming it was inspired by the solace she found while hiking near her Virginia home during lockdown. Canadian conductor and pianist Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Fleming have chosen 16 songs which feature lyrics exploring “the centrality of nature in Romantic-era song and highlight[ing] the peril … of the natural world today. … Now, in the Anthropocene, we see the effects of our own activity, and the fragility of our environment,” reflects Fleming.

A dedicated performer of art song, she draws on her classical repertoire including scores by Liszt, Grieg, Fauré and Hahn for the core of this recital. Also featured are recording premieres of Caroline Shaw’s 2017 Aurora Borealis, evoking flickering lights in the northern sky, plus two commissions from American composers. 

Pulitzer Prize-winner Kevin Puts gives Evening by the American poet Dorianne Laux a retro-musical setting, characterized by a supple lyric soprano melody highlighted by Fleming’s soaring high notes, and supported by Nézet-Séguin’s rippling tonal arpeggios and harmonies. 

Nico Muhly’s bricolage-like Endless Space, on the other hand, draws on several disparate texts: poetry of the 17th-century English theologian Thomas Traherne plus writing by climate change journalist Robinson Meyer. It starts with a sort of recitative before taking advantage of Fleming’s core vocal strengths still at her command in her sixth decade: velvety rich lows, graceful high passages, flawless intonation and dynamic control.

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