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Posted by Martin Walker on November 3, 2011, 3:01 pm
This is an interesting and well-written review by Göran Forsling, but I am not convinced. I believe that the interpretation of this cycle must be sung off the words. Ms.Stutzmann has a beautiful voice and her German diction is not exactly faulty - but I hear her phrasing as a permanent almost hypnotic swooping, almost a keening, that slurs consonants at the beginning and end of words to the extent that I sometimes become confused as to the actual meaning of the poems, something that has never happened to me before, either on record or in concert. When I "see" her, it is swaying from side to side, grimacing with concentration to achieve certain vocal effects. It leaves me cold, because I never have a full experience of the articulated verbal gestalt being completed and counterpointed by the vocal line and the piano accompaniment. This might just possibly be all right in the opera house, but in Lieder...
By the way, Lotte Lehmann performed all the songs, not "the majority", though she did leave one verse out of "Gute Nacht", constrained by the length of sides on 78 rpm discs. There have been at least 11 recordings of the full cycle by women singers, the latest by Christine Schäfer, I believe. Brigitte Fassbaender impresses and moves me the most: with her I am listening to an ongoing narrative; it may be the expressionistic portrayal of a deranged mind, but you (not the singer) hang on her every word, as you do with Patzak, who is sui generis and to my mind unparalleled in this masterpiece.
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