A new discovery of mine. Somehow I’d yet to have the pleasure of hearing this lovely voice until a friend of mine introduced me via this YouTube video:
I’m not entirely sure whether my enchantment came from the vocalist or from the piece or from the circumstances, but I’m enchanted, that’s fore sure.
Here’s some biographical details on Heynis.
Aafje Heynis (born 2 May 1924, Krommenie) is a Dutch contralto. In 1961, she was awarded the Harriet Cohen International Music Award. A tea rose, hybridised by Buisman 1964, was named after her.
As young as aged four she sang in the child choir and together with her father at the harmonium. On the advice of Jan Mienes, the conductor of the choral society in her native town of Krommenie she auditioned for teacher Jo Immink in Amsterdam with an arrangement of the “Pilgrims’ Chorus” from Wagner’s “Tannhauser”. After that from 1946 to 1949, her singing teacher was Aaltje Noorderwier-Reddingius and was given good advice by Laurens Bogtman, the great oratorio singer.
She quickly established her reputation, to begin with in the field of oratorio. With her performance in Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the direction of Eduard van Beinum, she attracted wide attention. She performed many concerts in churches, Lieder recitals, and numerous performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. For the Philips label she made a whole series of recordings of works by Brahms, Bach, Handel and Mendelssohn.
However Aafje Heynis showed a particular preference for Gustav Mahler, one consequence of which was a legendary recording of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink.
Here she is singing Strauss’ “Morgen.”
For comparison, here’s a recording of Morgen with which I (and most others) are very familiar. The Great Elisabeth Schwarzkopf:
And for some more Heynis examples:
Because I’m pretty sick (flu or something), I’m going to forego analyzing these performances for now. Instead, I’m just going to listen. Feel free to share what you think, however.