O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Chansons de Bilitis (1897)
La Flûte de Pan [3:07]
La Chevelure [4:08]
Le Tombeau des Naïades [3:08]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) / Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Widmung [3:47]
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)
L’invitation au Voyage (c.1870) [4:26]
Chanson Triste (1868) [3:30]
La Vie antérieure (1884) [5:05]
Extase (1874) [3:16]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Sonnetti di Petrarca
Pace non Trovo [6:00]
Benedetto sia ‘l giorno, e ‘l mese, e l’anno [5:57]
Pace non Trovo [6:45]
l’ Vidi in Terra Angelici Costume [5:45]
Liebestraum no. 3 ‘O lieb so lang de lieben kannst’ [4:17]
Freudvoll und leidvoll [3:20]*
O lieb so lang de lieben kannst [5:50]*
Wanderes Nachtlied [4:37]*
Marion van den Akker (mezzo)
Rian de Waal (piano); Paul Komen (piano)*
rec. 2004-2012, De Concertboerderij, Valthermond, The Netherlands

Following the release of Rian de Waal’s superb account of the Schubert Sonata D960, which has grown in my estimation every time I play it (see review), we now have Volume 3 of the Valthermond Recordings edition. These recordings were all made at the same Concertboerderij location, but from sessions spread over the last 6 years. Once again the balance and sonority of the recording is excellent, with admirable consistency throughout.
This is in part mezzo-soprano Marion van den Akker’s tribute to her late husband, but the results are far more than just a memorial souvenir. There is often something special about husband and wife collaborations, and the empathy these two musicians have for this repertoire radiates from these recordings. The personal associations Marion has for the songs are outlined and put into context in the booklet notes, as well as providing some useful background information on the composers and their work.
Marion van den Akker’s voice is a sensitive and highly refined instrument, and this is the kind of singing I can listen to for a very long time indeed. Her mezzo qualities put her on the darker side of a soprano sound as you might expect, but she has a vibrato which is shimmering and colourful, and with both musicians’ responsive affinity to the texts these are all marvellous performances. All of the song texts are provided in the booklet, though not translated from the original French, Italian or German.
Intelligent programming is another strong feature of this release, with piano solo versions interspersed with the songs. Liszt’s Widmung arrangement, his Pace non Trovo and the eponymous Liebestraum no. 3 ‘O lieb so lang de lieben kannst’ are all given as piano solos. These are however not placed back to back with their sung versions, and one’s ear and sense of memory are allowed a respectable distance and given some healthy exercise linking the music and evaluating differences and similarities.
Marion van den Akker dedicates the last three songs to her husband, recorded as they were with his lifelong friend and colleague Paul Komen. The poignancy of these musical statements given their context is heartrending, but these are all performances filled with warmth and affection, and there is never any excess of emotion. Just as the best comedy is delivered dry, so the best tributes are delivered without surfeit or hysteria. These are universal as well as personal salutations, and they speak to us all with deeply moving clarity.
Dominy Clements

Exquisitely refined and deeply moving.