Leh‡r, Strauss, Loewe, Wolf, Humperdinck, Brahms, Mahler, Cornelius, etc

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Cornelius,etc,Humperdinck,Lehar,Loewe,Mahler,Strauss,Wolf
LABELS: Forlane
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Felicity Lott S’amuse… Auf Deutsch
WORKS: Lieder by Lehár, Strauss, Loewe, Wolf, Humperdinck, Brahms, Mahler, Cornelius,
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano); Graham Johnson (piano)
‘Felicity Lott s’amuse… auf Deutsch’, runs the polyglot title. And true to its billing, this delightfully offbeat programme opens and closes with Lehár and en route takes in names like Oscar Straus (a clutch of risqué cabaret songs) and the virtually forgotten Franz von Vecsey (a languorous valse triste), together with Loewe, Strauss, Mahler, Wolf et al at their most genial and insouciant. Even the arch-intellectual Schoenberg makes an unlikely appearance in the guise of a sultry, witty cabaret number. There are passing shadows in Brahms’s regretful ‘Da unten im Tale’, or Cornelius’s elegiac lovesong ‘Ein Ton’. But hedonism – and the major mode – are the order of the day. Lott’s German may be a tad less idiomatic than her French; and occasionally her bright and still fresh tone can tighten at the top of the stave. But it is hard not to succumb to the soprano’s natural charm and communicative flair, abetted by Graham Johnson’s typically deft, detailed accompaniments. In the cabaret songs Lott strikes a nice balance between ‘proper’ singing and piquant characterisation; and she points, say, the malicious insinuations of Oscar Straus’s ‘Warum soll eine Frau kein Verhältnis haben’ and the salacious ‘Ninon’ with a vaudevillian’s suggestiveness. Other singers have conjured more of an erotic frenzy in Wolfs ‘Erstes Liebeslied eines Mädchens’. But elsewhere Lott and Johnson offer unalloyed pleasure, whether in the sly timing and inflections of ‘Lob des hohen Verstandes’ (Mahler’s dig at cloth-eared critics) and Brahms’s ‘Och Moder’ (a palpable sexual excitement at the end here), or the exquisitely poised, tender performances of ‘Da unten im Tale’ and Wolf’s early, Schumannesque ‘Wiegenlied im Sommer’. Richard Wigmore