Strauss, Schoeck, Berg

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berg,Schoeck,Strauss
LABELS: Supraphon
WORKS: Heimliche Aufforderung; Ruhe, meine Seele; Geduld; Allerseelen; Sehnsucht; Einerlei
PERFORMER: Dagmar Pecková (mezzo-soprano)Irwin Gage (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SU 3434-2
The burnished mezzo-soprano of Dagmar Pecková, with its dark, yearning undertones, is just the thing for late-Romantic and turn-of-the-century song, as we heard in her last disc of Wagner, Schoenberg and Zemlinsky. Now Pecková turns, with equal success, to Strauss, Schoeck and Berg, offering a minutely expressive and satisfyingly composed programme.

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Supported by the luminous piano-playing of Irwin Gage, Pecková captures that quintessentially Straussian sense of veiled rapture in songs such as ‘Befreit’ and ‘Sehnsucht’. The way in which words ring bright and true through the total stillness of her legato singing in ‘Ruhe, meine Seele’ and ‘Allerseelen’ gives these songs a feeling of palpable ecstasy.

The Swiss composer Othmar Schoeck, though championed by Fischer-Dieskau and, of late, by Dietrich Henschel and Juliane Banse, is still under-programmed. So it’s good to find six more of his 300 or so songs here. Again, Pecková identifies exactly and recreates movingly the uncertain, unsettling fin-de-siecle melodic and harmonic language which mists over the Romantic heartland of Eichendorff and Goethe.

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In Berg’s early Vier Lieder, the harmonic fruit is ripe and ready to fall. Pecková and Gage respond quietly and wonderingly to Berg’s setting of these German symbolist poems. Hilary Finch