There is a marvellous symbiosis at work between Holzmair and
Cooper that is evident everywhere on this wonderful disc. You
can hear it immediately in the first Lied, Auf einer Wanderung.
Cooper plays, as always, with the utmost sensitivity: just listen,
also, to the perfectly weighted chords of the accompaniment
to the prayer-like Schlafendes Jesuskind. Holzmair projects
the sense of wonder of the second stanza as eloquently as he
does the magic simplicity of the scene-setting first. Cooper
appears a little far back in the recorded balance.
Denk es, o Seele! is from Möricke’s novel Mozart auf
der Reise nach Prag. No surprise then that D-Minor is the
chosen key, the key of Don Giovanni. Cooper’s delicacy
in the final bars is astonishing; out of that silence comes
the famous Der Gärtner with its deceptive childish simplicity.
Delicacy is once more the order of the day for Auf eine Christrose
II, a song that here seems only barely to materialise on
the earthly plane - something shared, to a slightly lesser extent,
by An den Schlaf, heard later in the recital. In total
contrast comes the frenzy of Feuerreiter, a nightmarish
vision of a fairy-tale character who senses fire and abandons
himself to it. The fusion of Cooper and Holzmair is best demonstrated
here in Cooper's expert left-hand mirroring of Holzmair's phrasing
of the recurring phrase, “Hinterm Berg, Brennt es in der Muhle!”
(“Behind the hill, the mill's on fire!”).
The mystery of the advanced harmonies of Peregrina I
is wonderfully caught here. The song is thematically linked
to its companion, Peregrina II, and indeed they are performed
here with hardly a breath between them. The latter is a picture
of desolation in sound; the end hangs magnificently yet infinitely
sadly in the air. Um Mitternacht seems the only course
of action, the low, ululating accompaniment underpinning the
gentle vocal line. All credit to Holzmair here, for his faultless
honouring of the long legato lines. The disarming simplicity
of Jägerlied comes as a breath of fresh air, not least
in the form of Cooper's sprightly accompaniment with its wonderfully
Putting the Schoenbergian Frage und Antwort right next
to the popular Fussreise is lovely programming – and
we hear the applause that presumably marked the end of the recital's
first half. The second part opens with another harmonically
complex offering, though: In der Frühe, a meditation
on insomnia. Holzmair and Cooper uphold the intense concentration
through the enigmatic Im Frühling
There is a distinct Mahlerian tinge to the brief Lied eines
Verliebten before Wolf's own brand of desolation is heard
in pure form in Lebe wohl. Yet Holzmair has a restrained
smile in his voice for that meditation on the love-bite, Nimmersatte
Liebe, a smile that becomes more explicit in Elfenlied.
Zur Warnung – a musical depiction of a hangover – is
beautifully characterised by both players, while Cooper's accompaniment
to the final programmed song, Begegnung, is masterly.
The encore, Selbstgeständnis, is exquisitely turned.
Throughout, Holzmair’s high register is magnificently focused,
with little or no sense of strain, and he characterises each
song well. Cooper if anything outshines her soloist in her seemingly
infinite sensitivity. A very special disc.