WORKS: Lieder (Hyperion Schubert Edition Vol. 15)
PERFORMER: Margaret Price (sop), Graham Johnson (pno)
CATALOGUE NO: CDJ 33015 DDD
Margaret Price has one of the most distinctive and attractive voices of any soprano before the public today, and her contribution to the Hyperion Schubert Edition easily maintains the extraordinarily high level set by the singers in the previous 14 volumes.
Her technical control is well-nigh unassailable (some slightly worrying intonation in the first and last songs apart) and her enunciation impeccable. Her strength is not so much the colouring of individual words (as with Fischer-Dieskau, for example), but the establishing of a mood for the whole song: the longing of ‘Der Morgenkuss’, the agitation of ‘Sehnsucht’, the striding swagger of the walking song ‘Der Wanderer an den Mond’, or the sober reflection of ‘Am Fenster’.
And yet she does occasionally arrest the ear with little details: the light fall of silver flakes on the tree in ‘Im Freien’ or the broadening of tone for the swelling of the heart later in the same song. The suppressed sexual ecstasy of ‘Die junge Nonne’ is her finest moment, as it is that of her partner, Graham Johnson, at the piano.
Johnson is far more than mere accompanist. He is the mastermind behind the series and his intelligent interpretations inform every song. His notes are a model blend of wit and scholarship, and greatly enhance one’s appreciation of the works. The Hyperion Schubert Edition, then, remains invaluable, but happily no longer Priceless. Barry Millington