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19 July 2024
The Art of Karen Radcliffe

Karen Radcliffe (soprano)
Michael Bell (piano)

Soprano Karen Radcliffe was a tireless advocate of both classical and contemporary art song, premiering many works in partnership with her husband, the pianist Michael Bell. Tragically, after a battle with cancer, Karen died in 2023. This disc presents remastered recordings of French and Russian songs made predominantly twenty years ago, and stands as an “in memoriam” to her gift. “A distinctive and compelling artist with an exceptional range.” [Jane Manning - SPNM Magazine]


Gabriel Fauré: 2 Songs, Op. 46

II. Clair de lune

Gabriel Fauré: 3 Songs, Op. 7

I. Après un rêve

Gabriel Fauré: 3 Songs, Op. 23

I. Les berceaux

Gabriel Fauré: Cinq Melodies 'de Venise', Op. 58

I. Mandoline

II. En sourdine


Claude Debussy: Beau Soir

Claude Debussy: Mandoline, L. 29

Claude Debussy: Trois chansons de Bilitis

I. La Flûte de Pan

II. La Chevelure

III. Le Tombeau des naïades

Maurice Ravel: Histoires naturelles

I. Le paon

II. Le grillon

III. Le cygne

IV. Le martin-pecheur

V. Le pintade

Olivier Messiaen: Melodies

I. Pourquoi?

II. Le sourire

III. La fiancee perdue

Modest Mussorgsky: The Nursery

I. With Nanny

II. In the Corner

III. The Beetle

IV. With a Doll

V. Bedtime Prayer

VI. Sailor, the Cat

VII. Riding on a Hobby-Horse

Sound Recording/editing: Peter Seabourne
Total Time: 66:50
Release Date: July 2023

Karen Radcliffe read Music and Classics at the University of Keele, holding the vocal scholarship there for three consecutive years, subequently studying with Paul Farrington and Jane Manning for a Masters in Modern Music. She was awarded a Concordia Scholarship for opera studies and participated in numerous masterclasses with Adrienne Czerny of the Liszt Academy and Dr. Stuart Burrows. Karen made her London début at the Purcell Room alongside Jane Manning and the Endymion Ensemble in the “Performers’ Choice Series”.

For twenty years she has worked in recital partnership with Michael Bell performing throughout Europe to much acclaim in an extensive repertoire encompassing Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Grieg, Berg, Fauré, Debussy, Ravel, Poulenc, Messiaen, Dallapiccola and Shostakovich. Orchestral performances included Strauss Vier Letzte Lieder, Mahler Symphony No. 4, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony; in addition to sacred works by Haydn, Mozart, Respighi, Poulenc; and vocal chamber works such as Ravel’s Chansons Madécasses Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Britten’s Phaedra, and Berio’s Folksongs. Known for her advocacy of new music, she has given numerous premières including A Share of Night to Bear by Sorhab Uduman and the song cycle September, Just Septembers by Peter Seabourne.

Michael Bell (piano)Michael Bell is a distinguished pianist, and a widely respected pedagogue. Having studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derryck Wyndham and Sulamita Aronovsky, he was awarded a Chopin Fellowship from the Polish Government, enabling him to move to the State Academy in Warsaw. Subsequent national and international prizes led to numerous live concert performances and broadcasts on radio and TV throughout Europe, Australia and Africa.

More recent highlights have included concerts at London's Southbank Centre, in Bulgaria with the Sofia Philharmonic, and return invitations to the Kharkiv Assemblies Festival in Ukraine.

His solo repertoire is diverse and extensive, with recordings of solo works by Granados, Haydn, Grieg, Janacek, Seabourne, and of 20th Century English trios. Partnering clarinettist Victoria Samek, his disc of the complete duo works by Richard Rodney Bennett received much critical acclaim, as did his recording of Seabourne’s Steps Volume 3: Arabesques.

Michael Bell is also in demand as an acknowledged Lieder accompanist and is a member of the Chamber Players of London. A versatile and exciting musician, he has over thirty concertos in his repertoire, and has performed the complete Beethoven cycle. He has given premières of works dedicated to him by Peter Seabourne and Miroslav Spasov.

His playing is characterised by a vast palette of pianistic colour, great attention to articulation, and always the communication of an intensely personal vision.

SH315     View Booklet     UPC: 8033776713159

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