Alessandro Fisher Sings
A Gardener’s World
Debut Recording on Rubicon Classics for 2022 BBT Fellowship winner
Release date: 23 February 2024 | RCD 1087
Then gather a wreath from the garden bowers,
And tell the wish of thy heart in flowers.
James Gates Percival text for Elgar’s The Language of Flowers
At the end of Winter, a collection of songs drawn from a garden canvas illustrating nature’s
regenerative powers has to be a welcome foretaste of Spring to come. For his debut solo
recital on the Rubicon Classics label, tenor Alessandro Fisher (BBT Fellowship 2022) and
pianist Anna Tilbrook spent endless lockdown months unearthing a vast repertoire of
flower-themed songs from around the world and across the centuries.
Like many people during lockdown, Alessandro discovered in his garden that the unceasing
progress and recurrent bounty of nature generated feelings of hope and revival. For some
poets and composers though, the short-lived glory of flowers in bloom is also an allegory for
loss or the transience of romantic love. From Schubert’s Die Blumensprache to Elgar’s The
Language of Flowers, these flower-laden songs reflect the most profound human emotions
from melancholy to joy.
Alessandro’s research revealed the dominance of violets, anenomes and daffodils, some of
the first flowers to appear in Spring and bring happiness, albeit fleeting, to winter-weary
souls. Indeed, Sibelius themed no fewer than half of his Six Songs Op. 88 on various types of
anenome. Muriel Herbert’s poignant To Daffodils, composed in 1916, likens these bright
spring flowers to the all too brief existence of youth, while Poulenc’s Fleurs refers to flowers
given in a youthful pledge of love turning to ashes in the hearth of memory.
The love between Robert and Clara Schumann is reflected in songs they dedicated to each
other in which flowers play a key role. His first blush of love and sexual awakening is
apparent in Die Lotosblume, an innocent love which matured to profound devotion in Meine
Rose, while Clara reveals equal devotion and tenderness in her playful Das Veilchen (violet).
In songs of lost or doomed love flowers are also emblematic, such as the poor flower in
Fauré’s Le Papillon et la Fleur, bemoaning the fact that it can never be with its true love, the
fleeting butterfly, or the oak that is left distraught and alone when its companion, the rose, is
lured away by a young maiden in Carlos Guastavino’s La Rosa y el Sauce. Mint and rosemary
symbolise protection and remembrance in folklore and in Toldrá’s Menta i Farigola: the scent
of these herbs arouses an old maid’s elegiac memories of her childhood sweetheart, while
fields of waving grasses kindle nostalgic longing in Guastavino for his homeland of Argentina
in the tango-like song, Cortadera plumerito (one of 12 flower songs comprising his song cycle
The programme ends on a high note with Haydn Wood’s Love’s Garden of Roses, a jubilant
celebratoon of love in a summer garden that is vibrant with scents and colours and is a vital
reminder that life continues to flourish. “Its unashamed positivity felt like a message we
wanted to close with. Composed in 1914 on the eve of another great cataclysm that shook
the world to its core, we found it perfectly encapsulated the inspiration for the programme as
a whole” comments Alessandro.
“Come to my garden of roses;
Winds whisper low.
Ne’er was so sweet a garden
With love aglow.“
A bonus track at the end comes in the form of an encore at the Wigmore Hall recital – a amusing tale
of a misalliance between the honeysuckle and bindweed by Flanders & Swann.
Full track listing:
A GARDENER’S WORLD
Recorded live at Wigmore Hall 20 July 2021 (BBC Radio 3)
Rubicon Classics RCD1087 Release 23 February 2024
Franz Schubert Die Blumensprache/The Language of Flowers D 519 1817 (A or E Platner)
Felix Mendelssohn Das Erste Veilchen/The First Violet Op. 19a No. 2 1832 (Karl Egon Ebert)
Robert Schumann Myrthen/Myrtle Op. 25 1840 No 7 Die Lotosblume/The Lotus Flower 1840
Clara Schumann Das Veilchen/The Violet 1853 (Johann Wolfgang van Goethe)
Robert Schumann from 6 Gedichte und Requiem Op. 90: Meine Rose/My Rose 1850 (Nikolaus Lenau)
Jean Sibelius Six Songs Op. 88 1917:
De bägge rosorna/The Two Roses &
Vitsippan/The Wood Anenome (Frans Mikael Franzén)
Blommans öde/The Flower’s Fate (Johan Ludvig Runeberg)
Gabriel Fauré Le papillon et la fleur/The Butterfly and the Flower Op. 1 No. 1 1861 (Victor Hugo)
Ernest Chausson Les papillons/The Butterflies Op. 2 No. 3 1880 (Théophile GauOer)
Francis Poulenc from Fiançailles pour rire FP 101 No 6 Fleurs/Flowers 1939 (Louise de Vilmorin)
Eduard Toldrà from A l’ombra del lledoner:
A l’ombra del lledoner/In the shade of a hackberry 1924 (Tomàs Garcés)
Menta i Farigola/Mint and thyme 1915 (Josep Carner)
Floreix l’ametller/The almond tree blossoms 1929 (Ignasi Iglésias)
Carlos Guastavino La rosa y el sauce/The rose and the willow tree 1942 (Fernán Silva Valdés)
from Flores Argentinas 1969 Cortadera, plumerito (León Benarós)
Muriel Herbert Violets 1927 (George Meredith)
To Daffodils 1916 (Robert Herrick)
Edward Elgar The Language of Flowers 1872 (James Gates Percival)
Haydn Wood Love’s Garden of Roses 1914 (Ruth Rutherford)
Encore: Michael Flanders & Donald Swann from At the Drop of a Hat: Misalliance
- Awards and recognition include 2022 BBT Fellowship, membership of the BBC New Generation Artists Scheme 2018-20, Associate Artist of The Mozartists, first prize Kathleen Ferrier Awards 2016.
- Opera engagements have included Ferrando Così fan tutte (Grange Festival), Delmiro/Alindo Hipermestra (Glyndebourne Festival), Lucano/First Soldier L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Salzburg Festival), Don Polidoro, La finta semplice and Christian The First Commandment (The Mozartists), First Armed Man/Priest Die Zauberflöte (Garsington Opera at West Green House), Bellecourt Vert Vert (Garsington Opera), title role in Dardanus and the B Minor Mass (English Touring Opera).
Concerts include Berlioz L’Enfance du Christ (Wimbledon Festival), Donizeti Requiem (Orchestra della Svizerra Italiana), Mendelssohn Die erste Walpurgisnacht (Huddersfield Choral Society), Mozart Mass in C Minor (Royal Northern Sinfonia), Sørensen St Matthew Passion (Danish National Symphony Orchestra), Vaughan Williams On Wenlock Edge and Serenade to Music (Nash Ensemble), Bach St Matthew Passion (Jonathan Miller production, National Theatre), B Minor Mass (New London Orchestra) and Evangelist, St John Passion (Milton Court), Britten Les Illuminations (Ulster Orchestra), Vaughan Williams Symphony No 3 and On Wenlock Edge (BBC Philharmonic), First Brother The Seven Deadly Sins (London Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle), Green Spaces: A Celebration in Song (Opera Holland Park).
- Recitals include English Song, Oxford Lieder and London Song festovals, Wigmore Hall, Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery and BBC Radio 3’s Big Chamber Day, among others.
- Recordings include Theodore in Edward Loder’s Raymond and Agnes (Royal Ballet Sinfonia/Richard Bonynge), Harlequin in Ethel Smyth’s Fête Galante (Lontano Ensemble/Odaline de la MarOnez for Retrospect Opera), L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Les Arts Florissants/William Christie for Harmonia Mundi), Mercadante’s Il proscritto (Opera Rara), Bastien und Bastienne (The Mozartists/Ian Page for Signum) and Roussel’s Evocations (BBC Philharmonic/Yan-Pascal Tortelier for Chandos).
- Studied modern and medieval languages at Cambridge University where he was a choral scholar at Clare College, then Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Portraits of a Mind: Venables and Vaughan Williams (Albion Records 2023)
The cycle’s five songs are exceptionally well sung by Alessandro Fisher, who convincingly encompasses emotions stretching from the balmy pastoralism of the opening of ‘The Lark Ascending’ (with chirruping near quotations from VW) to the pained retrospection of the Rossetti setting Echo.
BBC Music Magazine
Alessandro Fisher is already an artist with interpretive depth to match a remarkable voice…his voice has power and a degree of mettle as well as beauty and sheen.
I like his balance of strength and frailty in these Housman settings, mirroring the poems’ subject of the fragility of life… a marvellous rendition from Alessandro Fisher.
Ferrando: Così fan tutte / The Grange FesIval 2023
Alessandro Fisher, immaculately stylish, gives us a breathtaking Un’aura amorosa and an angrily disconsolate Tradito, schernito.
…tenor Alessandro Fisher’s Ferrando possesses exceptional lyrical appeal…
Alessandro Fisher as Ferrando showed great comic timing and impeccable diction in the recitatives, a Lieder singer’s musicianship and care for detail in the ensembles, and delivered Un’aura amorosa with a sensitivity that made one wonder anew at the beauty Mozart could dispense in the service of dubious morality.
Anna Tilbrook www.annatilbrook.co.uk