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COMPOSERS: Wieck-Schumann
WORKS: Complete Lieder
PERFORMER: Isabel Lippitz (soprano), Deborah Richards (piano)
‘A woman must not desire to compose. No one has been able to do it, so why should I expect to?’ A long and eloquent essay (alas, only in German) about Clara Schumann’s plight as composer, woman, wife and mother of seven children is enclosed by Isabel Lippitz with her new disc of the complete songs. But the songs speak for themselves. Here is a ‘Liebst du um Schönheit’ which, long before Mahler’s setting of Rückert’s poem, shows an instinctive, and clearly influential, sensitivity to words. Here, too, in the six Op. 13 songs, is a richness of invention in the piano accompaniments such that one could well imagine the two-way traffic of musical ideas and criticism which flowed between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms.


By the time of Op. 23 and the six settings of Hermann Rollett, the harmonic perception with which Clara lit the ironic pathos of Heine’s poetry is strengthened by greater melodic confidence. These are wonderful, exuberant pieces, full of light-filled, virtuoso pianism as befits one whose playing was admired by Goethe and Liszt. Deborah Roberts does it proud at the keyboard, and Lippitz, though weak in the high soprano register in which much of the writing is concentrated, is an ardent advocate of these still under-performed songs. Hilary Finch