Clara Schumann: Lieder

Clara Schumann
Susan Gritton (soprano), Stephan Loges (baritone), Eugene Asti (piano)
Catalogue Number:
CDA 67249
BBC Music Magazine

Following her recording of the songs of Fanny Mendelssohn, Susan Gritton has provided one of the most generous and best-documented recitals on disc of Clara Schumann's Lieder. Almost every song was written as a gift to Clara's husband, Robert: audaciously for her time, she became wife, mother and career-woman, as the Wunderkind developed into a composer and travelling pianist of fierce ambition and huge energy. The 12 Rückert settings and the Six Lieder, Op. 13, are now pretty familiar: the intensity and focus of the vocal writing, as the lover braves the eye of the storm in 'Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen, has ensured the song high ratings. And the bloom within Gritton's distinctive bright-eyed soprano finds out the tender breaths of its last stanza. Gritton shares this recital with the baritone Stephan Loges, who takes over for a Rückert song which is becoming almost as familiar as Mahler's great setting: 'Liebst du um Schönheit'. Less awe-filled, more an intimate litany of love, Clara's setting draws out the warmth and ardour within Loges's sophisticated yet instinctive artistry. Songs also set by Robert Schumann, such as the Heine 'Ihr Bildnis', have somewhat less of the frisson factor about them; and the Six Lieder from 'Jucunde', feistily sung by Gritton, are little more than virtuoso salon songs. But the piano-writing, which gives sharp imaginative focus to each vignette, is animated to perfection by Eugene Asti, a pianist who lives to the full in every second of the music. Hilary Finch

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