Anne Sofie von Otter has crossed more genre boundaries than most and with effortless ease, so when DG marked her 60th birthday by asking her to pick her best 10 albums it was no surprise that she would come up with this stunner.
The set, branded “10 Classic Albums”, lives up to the name. We get lavish helpings of Brahms, French chansons, late-Romantic lieder and Scandinavian songs alongside von Otter’s brilliant collaboration with Elvis Costello, and we are given a bonus with her 1997 arias from Handel’s Ariodante, her first collaboration with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre. They also collaborated on an all-Offenbach album, done with wit and elan and even if it’s not your aperitif of choice von Otter’s ability to inhabit the music will impress you.
English conductor John Eliot Gardiner is another regular partner and their 1994 Kurt Weill tribute, Speak Low, represented another outstanding departure. Two further jewels in the set are her Baroque ventures with Reinhard Goebel and Musica Antiqua Köln, Lamenti and (my favourite) Handel’s Marian Cantatas.
But it is her 30-year association with fellow Swede, pianist Bengt Forsberg, which is the beating heart here. Their broad musical landscape takes in Cécile Chaminade’s witty petits fours; neglected Scandinavian composers and the more substantial songs of Strauss, Korngold and Berg. Add a dusting of icing sugar via her Christmas album and you have the perfect von Otter package.