Mendelssohn: Complete Songs

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn
LABELS: Champs Hill Records
ALBUM TITLE: Mendelssohn • Widmann
WORKS: Complete songs, Vol. 2: Frühlingsglaube; Minnelied im Mai; Gruss; Frühlingslied; Andres Maienlied; Romanze; Minnelied; Der Blumenstrauss; Suleika; Die Liebende schreibt; Keine von der Erde Schönen; Schlafloser Augen Leuchte; Im Herbst, Op. 9/5, etc
PERFORMER: Mary Bevan, Sophie Bevan (soprano), Paula Murrihy, Kitty Whately (mezzo-soprano), Robin Tritschler (tenor), Jonathan McGovern, Benjamin Appl (baritone); Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHRCD 091

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The second volume of Malcolm Martineau’s valuable Complete Songs of Mendelssohn is every bit as welcome as the first. Again, this seasoned and wisest of accompanists chooses a cast of fresh young voices, many of whom are meeting Mendelssohn’s songs for the first time, and clearly delighting in them.

The most palpable sense of delight rises from the voice of Kitty Whately whose feisty mezzo is entrusted with three impassioned songs by Mendelssohn’s sister, Fanny. And the responses with most substance and gravitas come from the CD’s own native German speaker, the baritone Benjamin Appl. His long-breathed prayer of an ‘Abendlied’, and his response to Mendelssohn’s bleak and brooding settings of Lenau, in ‘Auf der Wanderschaft’ and ‘Schilflied’, are the high points of this anthology (even if the songtexts for his ‘Herbstlied’ are wrongly matched in the booklet).

 The Bevan sisters, Mary and Sophie, take us through the ‘Suleika’ songs, greeting east and west wind with rapture: Mary’s earlier ‘Frühlingslied’ sends out spring fanfares, while Sophie’s soprano, with its lunar beauty, is revelatory in ‘Der Mond’. Paul Murrihy’s mezzo uncovers intimations of mortality in her six songs of Op. 99.

Robin Tritschler, with his fragrant, ringing tenor is well-cast to extol the joys of spring in ‘Frühlingsglaube’, while Jonathan McGovern’s baritone seeks out the darker side of serenading in ‘Minnelied in Mai’.

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Hilary Finch