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Bettina Smith / Jan Willem Nelleke

The Artist's Secret

  • Type CD
  • Label Lawo Classics
  • UPC 7090020182322
  • Catalog number LWC 1210
  • Release date 12 March 2021
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About the album

Mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith and pianist Jan Willem Nelleke invite us into a somewhat forgotten and seldom performed repertoire with their CD, “The Artist's Secret.” The release contains works for voice and piano, written by female composers. The title of the disc is taken from Dutch composer Henriëtte Bosmans’ work “The Artist's Secret,” with text by Olive Schreiner (1855-1920). Here the artist's secret is that he paints his works with his own blood. 
This recording is the result of the performers' intensive work throughout an entire year, mapping out the repertoire of these female composers within the art song genre, and the choice of title reflects the performers' feeling of having gained insight into these well-kept, “secret” songs. 

The composers on this CD – Anna Cramer, Henriëtte Bosmans, Borghild Holmsen, Cécile Chaminade, Marguerite Canal, Poldowski, Lili Boulanger, Rebecca Clarke, and Luise Greger – were all renowned and enjoyed fame in their time, either as performers, composers, or conductors. Despite this, most have been forgotten after their deaths. There is a desire to bring these composers back into the spotlight, into the concert halls, and to make this repertoire a natural programming choice, on par with music composed by their male counterparts. 
Norwegian mezzo-soprano Bettina Smith is a performing artist and Professor of Classical Singing at the Faculty of Performing Arts at the University of Stavanger. She has a wide repertoire ranging from Medieval to contemporary music, and she often performs as a soloist in oratorios and cantatas, or with pianists Jan Willem Nelleke and Einar Røttingen. This is Bettina Smith's fifth CD on the LAWO Classics label and the second with Jan Willem Nelleke on that same label.

Dutch pianist Jan Willem Nelleke's exceptional qualities as a duo partner are well known and highly regarded. His playing is described as “sparkling raindrops, rich chords, and beautiful interludes” and “an ever-alert co-operation with the soloist.”

Smith and Nelleke have collaborated since 1993 and have built up a large repertoire within the art song genre. They are part of The Elly Ameling Circle.

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