Der Nussbaum, Op. 25 No. 3; Frauneliebe und -leben, Op. 42; Die Lotosblume, Op. 25 No. 7; Liederkreis, Op. 24; Widmung, Op. 25 No. 1; Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135; Du bist wie eine Blume, Op. 25 No. 24
Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo-soprano), Nils Anders Mortensen, Johannes Weisser (baritone)
Lawo LWC1197 58:11 mins
This recital combines three much-loved and often-recorded Schumann cycles, interspersed with four songs from Myrthen, Robert Schumann’s wedding gift to his wife Clara. Yet the performance never quite connects emotionally.
In the opening ‘Der Nussbaum’, Schumann’s sinuous, flowing quavers are disciplined into a distressing roboticism by Nils Anders Mortensen. Marianne Beate Kielland’s sound is attractive, rounded and creamy, but can lapse into a slightly stiff, tremulous wobble. She favours a smooth ‘early music’ sound, but this intense music needs a more full-blooded, raptured, dramatic reading. Despite her excellent German, Kielland seems ultimately unexcited by her emotional journey in Frauenliebe und -leben. The Maria Stuart songs fare better, her restrained approach suiting the queen’s dignity.
A similar passiveness characterises Johannes Weisser’s performance of the Op. 24 Liederkreis. Weisser offers more vulnerability and pathos than Kielland, but the sound is not always technically well supported. That said, there are very beautiful stretches, for example ‘Berg’ und Burgen’, which is delivered with great tenderness and delicacy by both Weisser and Mortensen.
Mortensen’s approach is bewildering. He has a lovely touch and the technical skill to deliver all the notes virtuosically and evenly (so evenly!). But he could do so much more to reveal the many layers of Schumann’s complex textures, to experiment with the piano’s full percussive-lyrical range, to shape lines gracefully, with a more generous and flexible approach to tempo. The recorded acoustic is crystal clear, but the piano’s sound is occasionally overwhelming or underwhelming. Altogether, this recording could do with more magic, depth and passion.