In the about-to-be-released Sony Classical CD REBIRTH soprano Sonya Yoncheva finds a musical rebirth of her own as she sets out to explore a repertoire as far afield from her Puccini-Verdi Fach as can be imagined. With no stage work to be had these days of Covid19 isolation, the Bulgarian soprano has sought a welcome respite in the vocal repertoire of the 16th and 17th centuries and earlier from the Toscas and Elisabettas for which she has become well known and admired.

In the impressive company of a group of multi-talented multi-instrumentalists from the Early Music ensemble Capella Mediterranea, playing cornet, viola da gamba, lyre, archlute, theorbo, and banduria, along with more familiar woodwind, string, and percussion instruments, Yoncheva explores a variety of genres-within the Early Music field under the wonderful leadership of Argentine conductor Leonardo García Alarcón, .

The selections range from instrumental and vocal excerpts from 16th and 17th century stage, concert, and sacred works by Claudio Monteverdi, Alessandro Stradella and Barbara Strozzi, an intriguing selection of lesser-known Spanish language rarities, a poignant song by Orlando Gibbons, another by the Italian-born English composer Alfonso Ferrabosco,  the ubiquitous Dowland ballad Come Again, an off-the-wall choice by the Swedish pop group ABBA, and on to Zableyalo mi agǎnce, a hauntingly beautiful Bulgarian folk song with Medieval-Moslem roots.

Throughout more than a dozen plus vocal selections Yoncheva displays her affinity for the music of many periods along with an ample soprano voice that she generously applies to mostly slow moving, stately music where her command of a seamless legato line serves her to great advantage. The Bulgarian soprano’s silvery upper range is often used in these songs while her lower range is most effectively shown in the lower-lying Spanish selections. When she lets loose in No hay que decir el primor, a lively turn by the Baroque Spanish composer Tomás de Torrejón yVelasco, she is at her most exciting.

With detailed notes by Petya Ivanova, the fine production and engineering of Jonas Niederstadt, and elegant photography and packaging, this Sony Classical release is a welcome musical gift now more than ever.

Rafael de Acha                  ALL ABOUT THE ARTS