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Robert SCHUMANN (1810–1856)
Myrten Op. 25 (1840)
Widmung (Rückert) [2:18]; Freisinn (Goethe) [1:08]; Der Nussbaum (Mosen) [3:25]; Jemand (Burns) [1:25]; Lieder aus dem Schenkenbuch im Divan: I (Goethe) [0:34]; Lieder aus dem Schenkenbuch im Divan: II (Goethe) [0:51]; Die Lotusblume (Heine) [1:41]; Talismane (Goethe) [1:45]; Lied der Suleika (Willemer/Goethe) [2:42]; Die Hochländer-Witwe(Burns) [1:15]; Zwei Lieder der Braut: I (Rückert) [2:12]; Zwei Lieder der Braut: II (Rückert) [1:10]; Hochländers Abschied (Burns) [1:29]; Hochländerisches Wiegenlied (Burns) [2:52]; Aus den hebräischen Gesängen (Byron) [4:47]; Rätsel (Fanshawe/Byron) [1:34]; Zwei Venetianische Lieder: I (Moore) [1:54]; Zwei Venetianische Lieder: II (Moore) [1:03]; Hauptmanns Weib (Burns) [0:56]; Weit, weit (Burns) [2:46]; Was will die einsame Träne? (Heine) [1:59]; Niemand (Burns) [0:52]; Im Westen (Burns) [1:02]; Du bist wie eine Blume (Heine) [1:30]; Aus den östlichen Rosen (Rückert) [1:33]; Zum Schluss (Rückert) [1:42]
Sophie Koch (mezzo), Nelson Goerner (piano)
rec. Église de l’Annonciation, Paris, 22–24 September 2004. DDD
CASCAVELLE VEL 3085 [47:22]

 

For some reason I have totally missed Sophie Koch. For readers who are in the same predicament I can provide some information about her; all the more important since the booklet to this issue says not a word about her. She is French, studied with Jane Berbié in Paris and appeared a lot in France before she made her international debut in 1998 as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Covent Garden. After that she has appeared with most major European companies: Dresden, Vienna, Munich, La Scala, the Bastille and Châtelet in Paris, Deutsche Oper in Berlin and la Monnaie in Brussels. Among her roles are Rossini’s Cenerentola, Mozart’s Cherubino, Dorabella, Sesto and Idamante, Massenet’s Charlotte in Werther, Gounod’s Marguerite and Richard Strauss’s Composer (Ariadne auf Naxos) and Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier). She also appears as a concert singer and recitalist and she has recorded works by, among others, Schubert, Wolf, Fauré, Chausson, Massenet, Respighi, Grieg. What I hear on this disc is a large, vibrant voice with lots of warmth. I can easily imagine her being well suited to many of the roles listed above, information, incidentally, that I culled from this year’s Salzburg Festival, where she sang Dorabella in Così fan tutte.

Sophie Koch has a large, vibrant voice with a lot of inherent warmth. It wouldn’t surprise me if within the next few years she gradually moves over to heavier parts than the mainly lyrical ones on her current repertoire. Carmen should already be within her scope, a role that doesn’t necessary require the most booming chest notes. Teresa Berganza, for one, was a marvellous gypsy with a voice smaller than Ms Koch’s. As a Lieder singer the size of the voice is of lesser importance, it’s the nuances, the colouring of the voice and the insight in the texts that count. In this programme Der Nussbaum (track 3) shows that she can scale down the voice to very intimate dimensions without any loss in quality. On the other hand the second of the two songs from Goethe’s West-östlichen Divan, beginning, in translation "Don’t smack the jug down / Under my nose like that, you oaf" (track 6) – lines that are delivered with biting intensity, worthy of a Carmen or maybe a Fricka, to stay within the German repertoire. Die Lotusblume (track 7) offers beautiful lyrical singing, while Talismane (track 8) is full-throatedly dramatic.

Robert Burns seems to draw a special vitality from Schumann. Niemand (track 22) – or "Naebody" in Burns’ own Highland idiom – is so down-to-earth and full of life. "My Heart’s in the Highlands" (track 13) is impressively dramatic while the lullaby "Hee Balou" (track 14) is lyrically inward.

All through the recital there is a strong feel of deep understanding and communication and it can only be regretted that Cascavelle didn’t give us some more Schumann songs. The playing time is parsimonious at just over 47 minutes. Nelson Goerner, whom I so far have encountered only as solo pianist, is a pliable accompanist and shows his prowess in the many postludes. The recording is well-balanced and the booklet has a good essay by André Tubeuf as well as the song texts in French, German and English. I am looking forward to hearing more of Sophie Koch in the near future.

Göran Forsling


 



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