Brahms, Schubert & Wolf

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Schubert & Wolf
LABELS: BBC Legends
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Irmgard Seefried
WORKS: Songs by Brahms, Schubert & Wolf
PERFORMER: Irmgard Seefried (soprano), Erik Werba (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4040-2 ADD mono
Irmgard Seefried (1919-88) deserves the Legend label. She was one of the great Lieder singers, yet vocal perfection was never part of the ‘package’. That is no contradiction, as listeners to this new BBCLegends disc will hear. Her performances were alive and immediate and she had rare gifts of communication – perhaps more important in Lieder than sheer vocal beauty. This disc sums up her special artistry, while never disguising that fact that her singing could have a rough edge to it.

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These recordings were made on two consecutive days, and on the first she brought out all the lively charm of Brahms’s Six Folksongs and used her plangent tone to convey the deeper meaning of some of the composer’s more serious Lieder. She was in slightly smoother voice the following day for Schubert and Wolf, even if the deliberate lack of vibrato in the ‘antique’ ‘König in Thule’ comes across as hardness. She vividly evokes Gretchen’s predicament in ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’, and finds warmth and longing in ‘Kennst du das Land’, a good link to Wolf’s settings of the same Goethe poems. No texts or translations are supplied, but then this is probably a disc for connoisseurs who either know or have ready access to them. John Allison