Brahms • Schumann: Lieder

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COMPOSERS: Brahms • Schumann
LABELS: LINN RECORDS
WORKS: Schumann: Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135; Selected Lieder; Brahms: Selected Lieder
PERFORMER: Ann Murray (mezzo), Benjamin Appl (baritone), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Johnny Langridge (tenor), Malcolm Martineau, Hester Dickson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CKD443 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Ann Murray has announced that this will be her final Lieder recording. If indeed it proves to be so, she will be going out on a high. Her voice is obviously mature, but still in good trim. Her Schumann selection begins with a touchingly delivered account of the Poems of Mary, Queen of Scots in which her artistic intelligence and commitment are as apparent as her skilful balance between words and notes.

Also complete is the set of Lieder and Songs from Wilhelm Meister, in which she is joined by baritone Benjamin Appl, who delivers the narrative of ‘Ballade des Harfners’ expertly and gives a tense account of ‘Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt’. Murray, meanwhile, makes a delightfully light-hearted piece of ‘Singet nicht in Trauertönen’.

Appl is not the only guest on the disc, however. John Mark Ainsley joins Murray for Schumann’s ‘Ich denke Dein’, and Murray’s tenor son Johnny Langridge for ‘Familien-Gemälde’ – appropriately, as the title means ‘family portrait’. Malcolm Martineau, meanwhile, who accompanies with his usual expertise and authority, is joined by his mother, Hester Dickson, in one of the Spanish Love Songs, which is scored for piano duet.

The Brahms selection focuses entirely on Murray and Martineau, with the mezzo-soprano’s voice steady and complex in colour in ‘Dein blaues Auge’ and urgent in the ebullient passion of ‘Meine Liebe ist grün’.

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George Hall