WORKS: Liederkreis; Frauenliebe und -leben; Aus dem hebräischen Gesängen; Mignon; Der Nussbaum
PERFORMER: Marjana Lipovsek (mezzo-soprano) Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 57972 DDD
After recordings of Schubert Lieder (on Orfeo) and Brahms Lieder and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder (Sony), Lipovsek now turns her artistry to two of Schumann’s great song cycles, separated on this disc by half a dozen well-known Schumann songs. The warmth and richness of sound from this Slovenian mezzo-soprano rings out from the first few bars of the Op. 39 Liederkreis. She is now making an international impact: her unique, grainy timbre and a powerful personality offer new dimensions to mainstream repertoire.
In the Liederkreis Lipovsek’s ability to utilise her vocal colouring and delve into contemplative sequences is particularly well illustrated in ‘Mondnacht’, ‘Auf einer Burg’ and ‘Zwielicht’. The haunting poignancy of Schumann’s musical lines in Frauenliebe und -leben are beautifully captured by Lipovsek and Johnson. This is a deep, reflective and rewarding performance with only an occasional vocal strain for some notes. The three central songs, ‘Du Ring an meinem Finger’, ‘Helft mir, ihr Schwestern’ and ‘Süsser Freund, du blickest’, contain wonderful expressive moments. Two minor quibbles: the sound is rather too roomy and spacious for these intimate works, and, for once, although artistically and musically faultless as ever, Johnson does not always sound as technically assured as usual. Elise McDougall