Brahms & Schumann: Lieder sees Dame Ann Murray, one of the great vocal artists of the past decades, return to the recording studio to perform a personal selection of Lieder. Brahms & Schumann: Lieder, Ann’s first solo album in over a decade, will be her final Lieder recording and a fitting way to draw her long and distinguished recording career to a close.
Barbara Bonney's recital of the Schumanns' songs is prefaced, in the booklet-note, with a little feminist homily from the singer defending the reputation of Clara as woman and artist. Clara hardly needs that kind of defence nowadays, witness recent CDs by Skovhus and Stutzmann, plus several others not reviewed in these pages; her songs are far from patronized, let alone neglected. Yet, for all the advocacy of these singers, her inspiration remains for me intermittent, though thoroughly conventional songs are occasionally leavened by notably individual ones, such as, here, her very last and unpublished song, Loreley, which vividly conjures up that dangerous creature, particu lady in the hectic piano part, evocatively played by Ashkenazy. Indeed it seems that Heine most inspired her, as "Sic liebten sich beide" from her Op. 13 provoked a setting of economically intense meaning, to which Bonney finely responds.– Gramophone [9/1997].
"The song cycles “Kerner-Lieder” op. 35 and Liederkreis op. 39 by Schumann, recorded in 1954-55 for West German Radio, are amongst the foremost examples of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s mastery of the art of Lieder singing. The listener is treated to pioneering interpretations which laid the foundations for these sets of songs to become established in the recital programmes of younger singers. In the case of the “Kerner-Lieder” this may well be the first complete recording. In both recordings Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is heard at the early zenith of his powers as regards both his vocal technique and his crafting of the songs."
There are compelling reasons for acquiring this collection of recordings made in Vienna and New York in 1968. First, there is the intensely characterful singing of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and of Christa Ludwig, one of the great Mahler interpreters. Then there is the double fascination of hearing the songs with piano accompaniment played by Leonard Bernstein, who at that time was very much into enacting the role of Mahler's self-appointed representative on earth. Richard Osborne; Gramphone, March 1992.
There are compelling reasons for acquiring this collection of recordings made in Vienna and New York in 1968. First, there is the intensely characterful singing of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and of Christa Ludwig, one of the great Mahler interpreters. Then there is the double fascination of hearing the songs with piano accompaniment played by Leonard Bernstein, who at that time was very much into enacting the role of Mahler's self-appointed representative on earth.
Richard Osborne; Gramphone, March 1992.
Maria João Pires “shapes and colours every phrase, and with immaculate taste, and she makes sure the phrases end as eloquently as they begin,” wrote Gramophone in 1974. “She conveys not just the details but the relevance of every note to the whole … Best of all, she communicates everything she has discovered about the music, and it is worth having.” This Portuguese pupil of Wilhelm Kempff, Pires was one of the artists who defined the Erato label in the 1970s and 1980s. This 5-CD box gathers together the recordings she made over the period from 1976 to 1985 and it reflects the consistent focus of her repertoire, with its special emphasis on Austro-German composers of the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Embracing solo works, piano duets and concertos, it contains works by Mozart, Schumann, Beethoven, but also by Bach and Chopin.
Apart from the Takacs Quartet, whose spirited, youthful account for Hungaroton/Conifer (4/88) of Schumann's three quartets was marred by inferior recorded sound, no single group has as yet given us either a complete Schumann or Brahms quartet cycle on CD—and certainly not a composite set of all six works. So all gratitude to the Melos Quartet for filling the gap. Their playing is immediately enjoyable for its warmth, its rhythmic impulse and its very positive directness. To try and place it in sharper perspective I've nevertheless taken the liberty of comparing the two discs with my cherished old LP set of the same works from the Quartetto Italiano (Philips—nla). For even though this has recently been deleted, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find it back in the shops, digitally remastered, before too long.