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Ann Murray - Brahms & Schumann: Lieder - Buffalo News


04 March 2015
Buffalo News
Mary Kunz Goldman
4 Stars

Lieder, Brahms, Schumann, Ann Murray, mezzo soprano. Malcolm Martineau, piano (Linn Records). Here are 25 songs that take you to the heights of 19th Century Romanticism, performed beautifully by some of the best current Lieder artists. The Schumann songs begin with the rarely heard Poems of Mary, Queen of Scots, Op. 135. Schumann was, like Schubert before him, enthralled by Sir Walter Scott. And Clara Schumann, I was thrilled to read, loved royal tragedies. Hence these songs, brooding and poignant in that beautiful Schumann way. Their delicate accompaniments and sudden surges of passion, even their melodies and harmonies are strongly reminiscent of "Frauenliebe und -Leben." A set of songs Schumann set from Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister" poetry, with the exception of the lovely "Mignon," are tougher going for a Lieder fan because you keep contrasting them with Schubert's more famous settings. A duet version of "Ich Denke Dein" likewise suffers. But it's all first-rate music, and the "Meister" songs make me want to read Goethe's book, which sounds like a crazy story. The Schumann set winds up with affecting duets including the rapturous "Minnespiel." As for the Brahms songs, I love them all, from the transcendently calm "Your blue eyes" to the famous Brahms Lullaby. My great-grandfather was a blacksmith on Buffalo's East Side, so I get a kick out of "The Smith," a sultry love song a woman sings to the rhythm of her blacksmith sweetheart's hammer. Oh, I could go on and on. This is a marvelous Lieder album. Besides Murray and Martineau, it also involves tenor John Mark Ainsley and Johnny Langridge, baritone Benjamin Appi and pianist Hester Dickson.


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