Brahms: Lieder

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Margaret Price (soprano)Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 60901 2 DDD
Some of Margaret Price’s finest lieder singing these days is on disc: recording studio conditions seem to provide her with the balance of stimulus and safety she needs. Her soprano is changing as it matures: as sheer purity and ease of movement give way to more self-conscious, controlled artistry, so verbal energy becomes more robust, and imaginative responses more searching. Here, her matching of a selection of folksongs and Hungarian gypsy songs with Brahms’s settings of Heine’s verse capitalises on her strengths. For Heine’s songs of spring and of moonlight Price, most sensitively partnered by Graham Johnson, evokes both the vivid detail of the image and the subtlety of the mood. In the more direct story-telling of the dialogue folksongs from the lower Rhine, there is a new nervous energy and directness, while the emotional violence of her Serbian ‘Maiden’s Curse’ and the grief tolling through the vowel repetitions of a Bohemian fantasy are strong stuff indeed. A new brilliance is drawn from the voice in the Gypsy Songs as fiddlers weep and wail and kisses ring out from the strings of the cimbalom. Hilary Finch