PERFORMER: Edita Gruberová (soprano), Friedrich Haider (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-26795-2 Reissue (1991)
On the face of it, two nicely complementary Strauss recitals, with only seven items in common: 23 songs, arranged in ‘mood’ patterns, from the Dutch soprano Suze van Grootel, and 29 from Edita Gruberová, sung in chronological order. Van Grootel’s is a light, clear voice, but already in the opening lullabies she keeps a sturdy, careful foot on the cradle. The voice tends to the over-metrical, and Kees Schul’s piano playing to the metronomic throughout: neither musician seems to recognise the sensuous ebb and flow of verbal and musical metre which activates the heartbeat of Strauss’s songs. And van Grootel’s soprano, constricted at the top, has neither the fluidity of technique nor the imagination to free the sense of rapture or to recreate the elusive scents and half-lights within this music.
Edita Gruberová’s recital, by contrast, is balm to the ear and the spirit. From the early, gently wondering ‘Rote Rosen’ to the fragile late bloom of the posthumous ‘Malven’, she tastes and savours every word in a voice which has its own strong flavour and honeyed glow. The melodic line yields, expands, rushes ahead in sheer exuberance, from her majestic, gleaming ‘Zueignung’ to the childlike wonder which whispers through ‘Die Nacht’. An outstanding contribution to the Richard Strauss catalogue. Hilary Finch