Edith Wiens (soprano); Rudolf
Jansen (pianoforte); Joaquin Valdepeñas (clarinet)*
CBC MVCD 1053
Seligkeit, D.433; Frühlingsglaube, D.686; Das Lied im
Grünen, D.917; Lachen und Weinen, D.777; Der Jüngling an der Quelle,
D.300; Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D.774; Die junge Nonne, D.828; Romanze from
Die Verschworen (Singspiel, D.787 No.2)*; Ariette der Claudine, D.239 No.6;
Der Einsame, D.800; Nacht und Träume, D.827; Die Mutter Erde, D.788;
Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D.965*; Liebhaber in allen Gestalten, D.558;
Fischerweise, D.881; Heidenröslein, D.257; An Silvia, D.891; An die
Despite her teutonic-sounding name Edith Wiens is Canadian, but lives in
Germany and has mostly sung the German repertoire. Her voice is perhaps not
very large, but it is bright, forwardly-produced, with an attractive sheen
on it and a stronger lower octave than sopranos are wont to have. In Die
Mutter Erde she descends to a low B with no trace of a chest voice (though
some chest is brought in for the low B flats in Der Hirt auf dem
Felsen). In Die junge Nonne she darkens her tone effectively and
she makes the unusual decision (for a soprano) to sing Heidenröslein
in F instead of G. This is a very original performances, slow and tender
with the pianist, while observant of his rests, avoiding any trace of (unmarked)
staccato. A far cry from the usual bouncy way of singing it, but Schubert's
marking is lieblich (lovingly) so maybe this is what he wanted.
In the upper register some unevenness has to be reported. In the opening
song, Seligkeit, we can hear how her Fs are affected by three different
vowels in the words Saal (a somewhat constricted sound), Braut
(very pure, almost without vibrato) and mir (absolutely lovely).
Nor do the three Gs sound entirely easy. The high B in Der Hirt is
coped-with rather than exquisite but the B flats in the closing section come
off well and the runs are very cleanly executed.
So much for the carping. Der Jüngling an der Quelle is exquisitely
sung and now is the time to note how much the mellow tones of Rudolf Jansen's
piano, and the recording of it, contribute to the success of this recital.
At the start of Auf dem Wasser one might object to the way he prolongs
the first note of every group of semiquavers, but when the singer
enters a miracle happens and the piano glistens and shimmers around the voice
in a way it so often just fails to. Many a more famous version seems earthbound
after this. Other highlights are a gently assuaging
Frühlingsglaube, the beautifully spun long lines of Nacht
und Träume (so memorably poised above the deep piano writing) and
a gravely expressive Die Mutter Erde. The lighter pieces are charming
and Die junge Nonne is impressive though Ms Wiens was probably wise
not to attempt anything more dramatic. The clarinettist is adequate rather
than exceptional but it was a good idea to lift an aria with a prominent
clarinet obbligato from one of Schubert's little-known operas as a companion
to Der Hirt. Only An die Musik is not quite the sublime conclusion
one might have hoped for since here the pianist's systematic prolonging of
the first of all his four-quaver groups in his interlude and postlude really
does bog the music down. Try the Mathis/Johnson version in the Hyperion complete
edition for something simpler and ultimately more effective.
Texts and translations into English (by Richard Wigmore) and French are supplied
but the insert notes seem to be aimed at the under-fives. Otherwise this
disc is as good a starting-point for the newcomer as any, while connoisseurs
will find at least some performances equal to any they have heard.
One last question. This record was published in 1992, so how about some more
recent thoughts on Schubert from Ms Wiens's?