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Stephanie Houtzeel’s glamorous mezzo is put to stunning use in her recital, Nostalgia. The songs convey just that, each reflecting on a memory of place or mood. There are three worlds conjured up: Vienna (Mahler); New York (Ives); and Buenos Aires (Ginastera, López Burchardo, Guastavino and Piazzolla). Houtzeel is a member of the ensemble at the Vienna Staatsoper where she sings the major Strauss and Mozart roles amongst others, and it’s easy to see why her career has taken off. Her voice is sumptuous, evenly produced, plush right to the top. She sings confidently in English, German and Spanish and her range of vocal colours is wonderful. She is sassy in Ives’ ‘Ann Street’, luscious in Mahler’s ‘Icht atmet’ einen Lindenduft’, and slinks her way through the Argentinean numbers with judicious portamenti and rhythmic exactitude, but relaxed enough to enjoy the moment. Her accompanist is Charles Spencer, who matches her mood for mood and indulges her sophisticated sense of rubato. Slightly let down by a lazy booklet, misspelling Guastavino on the cover and informing us of Houtzeel’s plans for 2013. Oops.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica

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