Brahms: Lieder, Vol. 6: Op. 69, 70, 72, 72

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COMPOSERS: Brahms
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Lieder, Vol. 6: Op. 69, 70, 72, 72
PERFORMER: Andreas Schmidt (baritone), Juliane Banse (soprano), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 446-2
As so often with Brahms, the themes of longing and regret predominate here, whether in the folk tales of ‘Abschied’ and ‘Über die See’, or the mystical nature worship of ‘O kühler Wald’. But every now and again a serenade or character piece comes along to liven things up: say, the impulsive drummer’s song, ‘Tambourliedchen’, or the mischievous ‘Salome’. And the otherwise melancholy Op. 72 group contains a rare Brahms comic song, ‘Unüberwindlich’ – Insuperable – full of popping corks and hiccuping syncopations. As ever in this valuable series, Andreas Schmidt and Juliane Banse, discerningly partnered by Helmut Deutsch, make a nicely contrasted double act: Schmidt with his warm, sympathetic baritone and eloquent, echt-Brahmsian breadth of phrase, Banse using her bright-edged soprano with quicksilver intelligence and immediacy. Occasionally – in ‘Tambourliedchen’ or the gossamer ‘Sommerfäden’ (surely taken too slowly) – Schmidt can be a tad sober. But he sings ‘Unüberwindlich’ with unexaggerated relish; and when tenderness and inwardness are called for, as in ‘O kühler Wald’ or ‘Alte Liebe’, he is in his element. Banse, poignant in her many songs of grieving and longing, brings a real erotic charge to the agitated ‘Mädchenfluch’ and a delicious, knowing playfulness to ‘Des Liebsten Schwur’. Best of all, perhaps, is her ethereal performance of ‘Lerchengesang’, a twilit reverie of almost impressionistic subtlety. Richard Wigmore

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