Mezzo Magdalena Kožená’s third release on Pentatone is easily the best yet – which is really saying something. Following on from the ensemble performances of baroque recital Il Giardino dei Sospiri and the chamber-collective feel of 2019’s Soirée , with its many starry cameos, Nostalgia strips things back to just piano and voice.

Magdalena Kožená
Kožená and Yefim Bronfman make a thoughtful partnership, the Israeli-American pianist a collaborator more than capable of matching Kožená’s storytelling commitment. The dramatic give and take between them is the principal joy here in songs by Brahms, Mussorgsky and Bartók united by ideas of childhood, innocence and love.

Bartók’s Village Scenes is an arresting opener. No sooner do we recover from the clatter of peasant boots in Bronfman’s earthy piano introduction ( Haymaking ) than we are beset by the joyful shrieks and howls of a wedding party. Bronfman catches the lurching, self-regarding confidence...