WORKS: Lieder and Ballads, Vol. 11
PERFORMER: Monica Groop (mezzo-soprano), Cord Garben (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 612-2
Fairness requires us to call a truce on blaming Loewe for not being Schubert. Cord Garben and CPO are now more than halfway through their projected 20-CD enterprise of offering most of his songs and ballads. A number have little more than historical interest, some are prettily inconsequential but a fair few demand serious attention.
I have especially enjoyed earlier volumes from Kurt Moll and Andreas Schmidt. Now the women have their day. Ruth Ziesak brings many of the pleasures of her wonderful Pamina to the more delicate songs in particular. The 15 minute cycle, Esther, much admired by Schumann, reveals welcome restraint in avoiding vocal histrionics even when the temptations of overt melodrama are great. The Goethe setting ‘Der Gott und die Bajadere’ is just one admirable example of how effective her freshness of voice and seductive storytelling can be.
Monica Groop’s mezzo is a bigger instrument with a persuasive line in the dark tones needed for such grand guignol shockers as ‘Der Mutter Geist.’ She does have an occasionally distracting tendency to swell the volume through notes (an excess of dynamic zeal), but certainly triumphs in a virtuosic and suitably funny performance of ‘Der Katzenkönigin’.
Cord Garben’s accompaniment is as faultless as the recorded sound. David Wilkins