Sarah Wegener (soprano), Götz Payer (piano)
CAvi-music AVI 8553041 60:45 mins
An hour’s worth of Strauss Lieder, at least half of them very familiar, is going to merit a special place in the library if the voice is exceptional. That I wouldn’t say of Sarah Wegener’s soprano: it’s bright and open – good for the clarity of the text, as well as fast-vibratoed – but without the exceptional bloom you expect in this repertoire. I’m surprised that she doesn’t go for any of the Brentano settings of Op. 68, suitable for the lighter voice-type most perfectly allied here to the famous ‘Serenade’.
That said, although there’s not a great deal of tonal variety, the journey undertaken with clear, dependable if unsoaring pianist Götz Payer is surprisingly companionable. Special inflections inform the more probing pointing of the texts in ‘Rote Rosen’ and ‘Die Georgine’. The secret raptures that need an inner glow work well, above all the two wood wanders, ‘Freundliche Vision’, ‘Morgen!’ and ‘Traum durch die Dämmerung’. And if more voluptuousness is needed for ‘Heimliche Aufforderung’, ‘Cäcilie’ is convincingly paced, while the big final numbers, ‘Ruhe, meine Seele!’ and ‘Befreit’ also convince. It’s a pity that though Wegener’s and Payer’s joint essay is translated into English, the Lieder texts are not.