I’m not sure that I’ve heard the young German soprano, Christiane Karg
before but I do recall enjoying very much an interview
gave last year to my Seen and Heard
colleague, Margarida Mota-Bull.
That conversation took place when Miss Karg was at Glyndebourne to sing
Rameau. A few months later she went into the recording studios to set down
this contribution to the Strauss 150th
My first encounter with this disc came a few weeks ago in the MusicWeb Listening Room
. Further listening has reinforced the
favourable initial impression. However, I ought to comment immediately on
one thing. In the report from the Listening Room I said that we had felt
that in Morgen
, which was the first song to which we listened, the
balance between voice and piano wasn’t quite right; the piano was a little
too prominent. Further experience of the disc on my own equipment at home
has removed that caveat: I now feel the balance is satisfactory throughout
the programme. It may be that in the Listening Room we formed that
impression because this was the first track that we heard – we were much
happier with the balance in the other excerpts from the programme that we
auditioned – or it may be a case of different equipment and different
listening environments producing varied results.
Miss Karg has chosen her programme well in terms of providing an enjoyable
and varied recital and also in terms of selecting songs that are well suited
to her voice. In the Listening Room we all felt that ‘this is a true Strauss
voice.’ Now, having had the chance to read Miss Karg’s comments in the
booklet I see that she classes her voice as a ‘silver’ voice: I agree. It’s
interesting to learn that at the time of recording this album she was also
preparing to sing for the first time the role of Sophie in Der
– though the recording project was planned before the
operatic opportunity arose, it seems. So, in a way, here we have Sophie in
and it’s a most enjoyable experience.
There are five songs from the composer’s Op 10: all are well done. The
first of these is Die Georgine
and I wrote in my listening notes
that Miss Karg characterises the words very well without ever distorting the
line as she does so; that, I found, was to be typical of the programme as a
whole. I warmed immediately to Christiane Karg’s tone and the clarity of her
voce and diction. I also like the way the voice opens up, effortlessly and
naturally, when the music calls for it – for instance at ‘Wenn ich die jetzt
des Frühling brächte’ in this particular song. I like the flowing tempo for
, which is sung expressively and, in verse three,
ecstatically. Karg’s way with Die Nacht
is poised and almost
confiding; here she spins a beautiful line, singing with admirable control.
is a gorgeous song and here my ear was caught
particularly by some perfectly placed soft high notes.
The Op 10 songs are well known. Less familiar are a couple of early
is pleasing but not desperately remarkable.
Interest is added by the horn obbligato, here well played by Felix Klieser.
Another early offering is Begegnung
. This is delightful, especially
because Miss Karg is so effective at conveying the girlish eagerness that
the song requires.
The album takes its title from Heimliche Aufforderung
, one of
Strauss’s wonderful outpourings. Christiane Karg does this song really well,
rising marvellously to the song’s ecstatic end. This performance confirms
her strong Strauss credentials. At the other end of the scale
is sung with gentle radiance while Malcolm Martineau is at
his most sensitive. This is a beguiling performance. In Befreit
Miss Karg draws her listener in through her expressiveness and through the
sheer beauty of tone and line that she offers.
I haven’t mentioned every item in this programme but I can assure readers
that everything is done to the same high standard as those songs that I’ve
singled out for individual comment. Again, I’ve focused on Miss Karg’s
performances because her name may be unfamiliar to some. By contrast Malcolm
Martineau needs no introduction. For a recital such as this Christiane Karg
could scarcely have wished for a more accomplished, supportive and sensitive
partner. Martineau brings experience and distinction to all the songs in
The recorded sound is good, showing off Miss Karg’s voice to very good
effect. The documentation is similarly good and the only small irritation
was that, with a handful of exceptions, the composition date of each song
was not mentioned; that’s fairly basic information which ought to be
supplied as a matter of course.
This is a delightful disc and a fine tribute to Strauss on the
anniversary of his birth.
Das Rosenband, Op. 36 No. 1 (1897) [2:54]
Ständchen, Op. 17 No. 2
Hat gesagt - bleibt's nicht dabei, Op. 36 No. 3
Die Georgine Op. 10 No. 4 (1885) [3:43]
Alphorn, Op. 29* (1878)
Traum durch die Dämmerung, Op. 29 No. 1(1885)
Freundliche Vision, Op. 48 No. 1(1900) [2:37]
Geduld Op. 10 No.
5 (1885) [4:47]
Zueignung, Op. 10 No. 1 (1885) [1:39]
Aufforderung, Op. 27 No. 3 (1894) [3:10]
Begegnung, AV 72 (1880)
Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden, Op. 68 No. 2(1918)
Madrigal, Op.15, No. 1 (1886) [2:58]
Heimkehr, Op. 15 No. 5
Morgen, Op. 27 No. 4 (1894) [3:42]
Die Nacht, Op. 10 No.
3 (1885) [2:52]
Befreit, Op. 39 No. 4 (1898) [4:58]
Leises Lied, Op.
39 No. 1 (1898) [2:32]
Drei Lieder der Ophelia Op. 67 (1918)
Malven, AV 304 (1948) [2:40]
Allerseelen, Op. 10 No. 8 (1885)
Am Ufer, Op. 41 No. 3 (1899) [2:25]