ALBUM TITLE: Mahler
WORKS: Urlicht: a collection of Lieder
PERFORMER: Christianne Stotijn (mezzo-soprano), Julius Drake (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ONYX 4014
Hot on the heels of the young Dutch mezzo’s debut disc – warmly welcomed by Hilary Finch in the April issue – comes a Mahler recital of astonishing range and sophistication. Go straight to ‘Rheinlegendchen’ to catch the lighter essence of Stotijn’s approach: every word is coloured and inflected with natural musicianship, but never gets in the way of line or phrasing. Her rock-solid alto range is equally adaptable to the gruff sentinel of ‘Der Schildwache Nachtlied’, an unforgettable withdrawal to a private world in the last verse of ‘Ich bin der Welt’ and the assurance of ‘Urlicht’ (programmed here to follow an intriguingly steady treatment of the song which, reworked as the Scherzo of the Second Symphony, also precedes its orchestral incarnation).
If there’s a fault, it’s that at the top of the range the vibrato can be tight under pressure, but characterisation overcomes it in the repeated ‘ades’ of ‘Scheiden und Meiden’. Like her pianist Julius Drake – a subtle impersonator of the birds, bugles and alphorns that haunt the naïve folk world of Mahler’s youthful forays – Stotijn makes every song a gem; it helps that the composer is always himself even in the early settings. The new concert hall of the Yehudi Menuhin School, making its recorded debut, lends warm support to the subtly varied recording. David Nice