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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Das Veilchen, K576
Die Verschweigung, K518
Un moto di gioia, K579
An Cloé

Abendempfindung, K523
Als Luise die Briefe, K520
An die Einsamkeit, K391
Das Lied der Trennung, K519
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Der blinde Knabe, D833
Lied der Anne Lyle, D830
An Sylvia, D891
Ellens Gesand I, D837
Ellens Gesang II, D838
Ellens Gesang III, D839
Heiß mich nicht redden, D877 No. 2
So lasst mich scheinen, D877 No. 3
Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt, D877 No. 4
Anselm HÜTTENBRENNER (1794-1868)

Die Seefahrt
Der Hügel
Die Sterne

Sibylla Rubens (soprano); Irwin Gage (piano)
Recorded 22-26 July, Kammermusikstudio, SWR Stuttgart
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC CD 93.076 [71.58]


Sibylla Rubens has previously made some fine Bach recordings, especially among the cantatas, but in this recital she is able to take a more centre-stage position in her own right. She offers an interesting programme of Mozart, Schubert, and the latter’s friend Hüttenbrenner.

The highlight of the disc is the quite wonderful selection of lieder by Schubert. The chosen songs suit Rubens’s voice to perfection, and she is marvelously supported by the accompaniments of the experienced Irwin Gage. In this group of songs superlatives abound, and to single any particular performances out seems invidious. For example, the famous An Sylvia (TRACK 11: 0.00) is delectable, so too the three versions of Ellens Gesang (version I, TRACK 12: 0.00), taken from Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. Then come the settings of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, the Mignon songs, some of the finest vocal pieces Schubert ever composed. And that is certainly how they sound here.

If this is probably the best music among the collection, the Mozart songs are most appealing too. It is interesting how different the voice sounds in these pieces. It is much lighter in timbre, as though Rubens has reinvented herself; or perhaps it is simply the natural response of her artistry to the music. If there is a highlight among this collection, it is perhaps the short but beautifully judged song, Als Luise die Briefe (TRACK 6: 0.00), about the distraught girl who destroys her love letters.

As for Anselm Hüttenbrenner, his songs hardly reveal a neglected genius, though they are well worth hearing, and all praise for the decision to include them as the ‘extras’ in this recital. They are all nicely judged, and here as elsewhere Irwin Gage lends his sensitive support to Sibylla Rubens, an artist of whom more and more should be heard.

If the recital is worthy of the highest praise, and the quality of the recording too, the policies of Hänssler Classics’ editorial team set altogether lower standards. Having decided to go for German and English texts in the thorough and useful supporting notes, why on earth print only the German texts with no translations. The expression that comes to mind is ‘spoiling the ship for the ha’peth of tar’. Nor is it the first time that this company has been guilty of such poor judgement in this department.

Terry Barfoot


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