Schumann, Brahms, Schubert

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COMPOSERS: Brahms,Schubert,Schumann
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Frauenliebe und -lebe; 8 Zigeunerlieder; Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister
PERFORMER: Waltraud Meier (mezzo-soprano) Gerhard Oppitz (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68759 2
Waltraud Meier’s often exciting singing needs to be hyperintensive to be effective – which is to say that she has not yet discovered satisfying solutions for many of the Lieder in this recital. True, Brahms’s Zigeunerlieder can withstand Meier’s temperament (though she lacks the light touch that would make them sparkle), and stormy moments in Schubert’s Die junge Nonne emerge vividly. Although Meier realises here that she can’t be intense all the time, her technique is not free enough to allow for much expressive variety. Intimacy and naive rapture in Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben elude her completely, as do the worlds of ecstasy and (mostly) despair required by her Schubert group. We’re left with a rich voice that too often sounds unwieldy (the botched turns in ‘Er, der Herrlichste von allen’ are merely the most conspicuous example of a voice in imperfect technical alignment) and breathy (in the four Mignon songs). Gerhard Oppitz cannot be blamed for the piano’s dry, recessed sound, but his playing – picky (Gretchen am Spinnrade), lethargically paced (Schumann), anything but tumultuous – is an odd match for Meier. David Breckbill