COMPOSERS: Bartok,Brahms,Mozart,Mussorgsky,R Strauss,Schubert,Schumann,Wolf
LABELS: DG Dokumente
WORKS: Lieder by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, Wolf, R Strauss, Mussorgsky, Bartók
PERFORMER: Irmgard Seefried (soprano), Erik Werba (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 437 348-2 ADD mono
Irmgard Seefried (1919-88) was in her day one of the world’s reigning Mozart and Strauss sopranos, and a Lieder singer of renown. Her reputation has not been as securely preserved as in the parallel cases of Schwarzkopf and Fischer-Dieskau. But these two CDs should help to rectify the balance, revealing her as one of the supreme communicators on disc – a singer whose impulsive urgency in fusing notes and words blazes out of the speakers. At her best, Seefried blended frankness and charm in ideal proportions (not for nothing was she German by birth, Viennese by adoption). She was never a ‘perfect’ singer, even in the earlier part of her career, when the tone had the shine and crisp sweetness of a freshly-picked apple; later recordings (such as the 1961 Schubert and Strauss items) could betray upper-register strain.
Even then, however, the appeal of her ‘Lied im Grünen’, ‘Junge Nonne’ and ‘Fischerweise’ – three of the most captivating Schubert performances ever preserved – proves irresistible. The same intense musicality, eager verbal imagination and gift of being simple but never simple-minded, stamp her Mussorgsky and Bartók cycles, her Mozart and her marvellously direct account of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben. There is more Seefried in the DG and EMI archives: further reissues can only do those companies, and us, a power of good. Max Loppert