Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 39; Frauenliebe und -leben,

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WORKS: Liederkreis, Op. 39; Frauenliebe und -leben,
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: RRC 1051 Reissue (1991)
For meticulous musicianship and sheer beauty of tone and phrasing you won’t do much better than this 1991 recital. Beyond this, Felicity Lott, abetted by the hyper-sensitive Graham Johnson, is always a thoughtful, discerning interpreter. In the Eichendorff Liederkreis she subtly captures, say, the quizzical, whimsical delicacy of ‘Die Stille’; and ‘Mondnacht’ is exquisite in its radiance and perfectly judged rubato. Occasionally in both cycles Lott can seem too polite and understated: the spooky ‘Waldesgespräch’ is quite unthreatening, while ‘Zwielicht’, one of Schumann’s most haunted, disturbing songs, here sounds merely plaintive – though in fairness, the elements of nocturnal menace and strangeness in the Liederkreis always seem to elude a bright, lyric soprano voice. But Lott’s Frauenliebe und -leben conveys a real sense of a journey from dazed innocence to numbness in bereavement; and the additional items – above all the much-underrated ‘Kennst du das Land’ – are sung with an ardour and spontaneity I sometimes miss elsewhere. Richard Wigmore