COMPOSERS: Mahler & Marx,Strauss
LABELS: EMI Debut
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Emi Debut
WORKS: Lieder by Strauss, Mahler & Marx
PERFORMER: Katarina Karnéus (mezzo-soprano)Roger Vignoles (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDZ 5 73168 2
The policy of issuing vocal discs without texts is discourteous to the artists, an insult to purchasers and has a Viagra-like effect on my sense of indignation. End of brickbats: the rest of the news is very good for this batch of discs devoted to singers who are but a shortish way into careers that already seem to be well-established and full of promise.
Dietrich Henschel has the hardest task in a crowded market but he is a baritone of presence and thoughtfulness. He opens the cycle all wide-eyed and confident. The sense of encroaching insecurity is palpable even if the modulations of, for example, ‘Der Neugierige’, are under-exploited and the passionate outbursts in ‘Ungeduld’ could be more exultant. If the reading as a whole is just a shade unadventurous judged against the highest competition, I would still commend it as suitably youthful and affecting.
Katarina Karnéus reveals a musical intelligence of great sensitivity as well as a voice which is, quite simply, glorious. She puts her large palette of vocal colour to work in Strauss songs and, in the Rückert Lieder, has that especially Mahler-suited skill of darkening, of drawing a veil over the sound. She can’t, yet, sing ‘Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen’ with the inwardness of Ferrier or Baker but is well on the way.
Michelle DeYoung already seems destined to be a significant Wagnerian soprano. Here she sings the Wesendonck Lieder with restrained but thrilling power, makes a dreamscape of Duparc’s lovely mélodies and relishes both the passionate and tender moods in Richard Strauss.
The American album has given me the greatest pleasure of all. Nathan Gunn sings like a cross of Hampson and Ramey at their best; the repertoire is varied and clearly loved by its performers who can communicate all its abandon and joy, sentiment and sophistication. This one, I think, you must have. David Wilkins