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The Dark Night Has Vanished

Catriona Morison (mezzo-soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano) (Linn Records)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

The Dark Night Has Vanished
Grieg: Sechs Lieder, Op. 48; R Schumann: Sechs Gedichte und Requiem; plus songs by Brahms and J Lang
Catriona Morison (mezzo-soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
Linn Records CKD 637   58:47 mins

Brahms and Schumann might be repertoire staples for any Lieder singer – Grieg too if Nordic inclinations obtain – but there are relatively few who have championed Josephine Lang, a protégée of Mendelssohn and prolific song composer. Undeterred, the 2017 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World picks up the gauntlet and in a recital probing love and loss she includes half a dozen songs; among them, the unpublished, early Gestern und Morgen – though the work of an 18-year-old, arguably one of the most persuasive of the group. For the rest, Morison picks from across Brahms’s output whilst opting for single sets when scaling Grieg and Schumann – Grieg’s Op. 48 a return to setting German after nearly a quarter of a century; Schumann’s Op. 90 a ‘tombeau’ for the poet Nikolaus Lenau (who, as it happens, was yet to die, and duly obliged when the tribute finally received its premiere).

Morison’s mezzo basks in an almost inextinguishable warmth and radiance, although she’s able to invest Brahms’s Dein blaues Auge with a numbness that gives way to an exquisitely controlled intensification at the reference to ‘throbbing pain’. And she’s a perfect fit for the immediate, unforced naturalness of the Grieg, perfectly gauging the emotional temperature of Goethe’s ‘Zur Rosenzeit’, and adept at eliciting the hazy happiness of ‘Ein Traum’. Everywhere her sense of musical line is a wonder (pianist Malcolm Martineau conjuring wonderments of his own), though a more nuanced engagement with the sound and colours of the German words could be desired. Riveting nonetheless.


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Paul Riley