PERFORMER: Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano), Alexei Lubimov (piano), Ilari Angervo (viola) Jubilate Choir
CATALOGUE NO: ODE 896-2
As her career broadens and her artistry deepens, the Finnish mezzo-soprano Monica Groop shows herself to be a discriminating selector of pianists as well as of repertoire. Having worked with András Schiff and Rudolf Jansen (for Schubert), she is now partnered by Alexei Lubimov, whose strongly defined playing propels her into the ardent heart of the Zigeunerlieder for her new Brahms recital.
Groop and Lubimov choose vividly contrasting tempos which heighten the red-blooded volatility both artists find in these songs. Throughout the disc it is the fervour and energy of Brahms’s writing which draws most from their performances: the impatience and indignation of ‘Des liebsten Schwur’, as Groop’s voice leaps high, and the passionate dialogue of ‘Von ewiger Liebe’. Although the voice hugs the melody’s contour with seductive simplicity in the folksongs, Groop’s tendency to crescendo – almost gush – into sustained notes overheats ‘Immer leiser’ and ‘Die Mainacht’, while the two songs with viola are marred by Ilari Angervo’s constricted tone. Hilary Finch