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Benita Valente – Volume 2
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Romanze, D. 787, Gretchen am Spinnrade, D. 118
Cynthia Raim ( piano); Harold Wright (clarinet)
Lied der Mignon, D. 877, #2, #3, & #4
Lydia Artymiw (piano)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Die Lotosblume, op. 25, #7, Du bist wie eine Blume, op. 25, #24; Marienwürmchen, op. 79, #13
Lee Luvisi (piano)
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Heimkehr, op. 15, #5, Allerseelen, op. 10, #8, Einerlei, op. 69, #3; Drei Lieder der Ophelia, op. 67, #1 Wie erkenn ich mein Treulieb, #2 Guten Morgen, #3 Sie trugen ihn, Zueignung, op. 10, #1, Die Nacht, op. 10, #3, Ständchen, op. 17, #2; Cäcilie, op. 27, #2
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
Er ist's, Verschwiegene Liebe, Verborgenheit, Das verlassene Mägdlein, In dem Schatten meiner Locken, Mausfallensprüchlein
Benita Valente (soprano)
Cynthia Raim (piano)
rec. 29-31 July 1985, Rutgers Presbyterian Church, New York City (Strauss, Wolf); 4-7 July 1985, Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota (Schubert); 10-12 December 1980 (Lied der Mignon; Die Lotosblume; Du bist wie eine Blume; Marienwürmchen). DDD
German texts and English translations provided.
BRIDGE 9451 [62:06]

When I was living in New York City in the mid-1980s a concert by Benita Valente was quite an event. She had an important international career and sang frequently at the Met, but this anthology, compiled from recordings all made in that same decade, concentrates upon her pre-eminence as an exponent of nineteenth century German Lieder. As such it serves as testimony to the beauty of her voice and her skill as an interpreter. The tone and timbre of her soprano are at times uncannily similar to that of her contemporary Beverly Sills. Her voice has a purity, vibrancy and a slight, appealing tremulous quality that is suggestive of repressed passion. These qualities are amplified by her preferred choice of Lieder which centres upon the plight of young, vulnerable women.

A whole, uninterrupted hour of such material can perhaps be too much of a good thing and I would advise listening in controlled stages to avoid overload upon the “little woman as victim” theme. The resultant lack of variety, even in such a beautiful voice as this, can be a trial but there is never any doubt that we are listening to a singer of rare gifts (review of Volume 1).

As someone who has struggled to appreciate Wolf, I appreciate the inclusion of half a dozen of his most appealing and approachable songs but I find the greatest pleasure in her delivery of the Schubert and Strauss items, where she need fear no competition from even the best Lieder singers.

The notes provide an amusing anecdote regarding how the singer was initially discouraged by a teacher who had eventually to eat his words. The provision of full texts and translations is a welcome, increasingly rare bonus.

The recordings are all supposedly digital even those made as early as 1980; certainly they are full, clean, clear and hiss-free.
Ralph Moore



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