Portraits

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COMPOSERS: C Schumann,R Schumann
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: R Schumann: Six Songs from Myrthen; Frauenliebe und -Leben; Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart; Volksliedchen; Der Himmel hat eine Träne geweint; C Schumann: Three songs from Six Lieder; Lorelei; Three Lieder, Op. 12
PERFORMER: Miah Persson (soprano), Joseph Breinl (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BIS BIS-SACD-1834 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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It’s always good to see Clara appearing alongside Robert Schumann. Although this is by no means uncommon now, this recital is uncommonly well shaped – Clara’s songs weave in and out of those by her fiancé and husband, which are inextricably associated with their relationship. Clara first: ‘Ich stand in dunklen Träumen’ is the same Heine poem which Schubert set so memorably as ‘Ihr Bild’ in his Schwanengesang. Clara’s setting can’t compare with Schubert’s single line of anguish, but Miah Persson’s bright, guileless soprano ideally expresses its very special simplicity and tenderness. And her accompanist, Joseph Breinl, relishes the pianistic delights of her Lorelei – a favourite of Romantic composers, notably Liszt. Clara’s three Rückert Songs, which include a settting of Mahler’s beloved Liebst du um Schönheit, show her real prowess in fluent, ardent responses which Persson and Breinl recreate instinctively.

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As for Robert, beginning with his dedicatory Myrthen – a wedding gift for Clara – was a must. But Persson also turns to his dark Maria Stuart songs – more often mezzo territory. Without that darkness within her voice, she focuses effectively on the songs’ anguish and sense of bewilderment. Persson’s Frauenliebe und -Leben also very much tunes in to her own vocal sensibility. This performance rings with exuberant delight: there’s a girlish excitement, a racing pulse, and an enraptured confidence, leading to a final song of fierce grief. Hilary Finch