Brahms: Lieder

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WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Juliane Banse (soprano), Iris Vermillion (mezzo-soprano), Andreas Schmidt (baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 447-2
It’s spring 1882, and CPO’s valuable Brahms Edition has reached the point at which the composer has collated and published three more volumes of Lieder: the Opp. 84-6. Juliane Banse’s soprano and Iris Vermillion’s mezzo are on hand for Op. 84’s folksy dialogue songs between mother and daughter and, as the shadows lengthen, the baritone Andreas Schmidt is there for the darker Lieder of Op. 86. Banse and Vermillion set up a lively dialogue between youth and age, innocence and experience in ‘Sommerabend’ and ‘Der Kranz’. And the plangency within Banse’s soprano makes her a properly waifish maiden in Brahms’s conjuring of a Serbian ‘Mädchenlied’. Schmidt’s famous mahogany legato creates a trance-like, unbroken line of melody for ‘Feldeinsamkeit’, with its evocation of timelessness and infinite space. He seems to be in something of a deep sleep himself for ‘Nachtwandler’: where the singer can be a little laid-back, Helmut Deutsch’s proactive piano accompanying always energises the music. For the five songs of Op. 94, Schmidt reigns supreme. The nether regions of his baritone most eloquently express Rückert’s reflections on reaching 40 in ‘Mit vierzig Jahren’; and he becomes something of a Leiermann figure for the bleak ‘Kein Haus, kein Heimat’. Hilary Finch