Portrait - Arias & Lieder
Christiane Karg (soprano)
Burkhard Kehring (piano) (1, 7, 8, 10, 13); Malcolm Martineau (piano) (2, 3, 6, 12); Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen (4, 5, 9, 11, 14)
No recording dates or venues given BERLIN CLASSICS 0300788BC [67:21]
Four years ago I heard one of the discs from which this portrait disc was compiled. It was Amoretti with arias by Mozart, Gluck and Grétry. I was quite overwhelmed and made it a Recording of the Month (review). Very few discs get that accolade and hearing the tracks again I quickly realised that I hadn’t been rash in my verdict. Karg's singing and the repertoire really is that good. Her other three discs have also been highly rated (review). My colleague John Quinn was enthusiastic over the Strauss disc, from which there are here four songs, and all four readings are top-notch. From a disc titled "Verwandlung" we get a handful of songs, and two of them are more or less hidden gems: Clara Schumann’s Er ist gekommen in Sturm und und Regen which opens this compilation, is quite lovely, eagerly performed here with beautiful soft singing. Christiane Karg knows how to colour her tone. Franz Schreker, best known for his opera Der ferne Klang, wrote Sommerfäden early in his career and it is marvellously beautiful. Mendelssohn’s Infelice pensier is a relative rarity. It's a setting of Metastasio. This is not from a larger work but an independent scena for concert performance, like for instance Beethoven’s Ah, perfido which is also included on the same disc. This is mature Mendelssohn and it includes a beautiful violin solo. The last section is highly dramatic.
Christiane Karg does not have a big voice but the way she employs it is magical. If you haven’t heard her before I advise you to pick any track at random-and I would be surprised if you don’t get hooked as well.
This disc is a perfect introduction to the art of one of the best present-day sopranos. The programme is varied, there are some well-known works-the Strauss songs, Schumann and Schubert-and some gems just waiting to be discovered. The Gluck and Grétry arias are marvellous. The two pianists are among the best in their trade and Arcangelo is a splendid middle-sized orchestra.
So, why hesitate? The decision is: do you buy this disc or do you want all four CDs from which these tracks are drawn.
CD Contents Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
1. Er ist gekommen in Sturm und Regen Op. 12 No. 2 [2:48] Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
2. Heimliche Aufforderung Op. 27 No. 3 [3:14]
3. Befreit Op. 39 No. 4 [5:00] André-Ernest-Modeste GRÉTRY (1741-1813)
4. Il va venir! … Pardonne, ô mon Juge from Silvain
[5:18] Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)
5. Adieu, conservez dans votre âme from Iphigénie en Aulide
[4:28] Richard STRAUSS
6. Morgen Op. 27 No. 4 [3:43] Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
7. Frühlingsnacht Op. 39 No. 12 [1:21] Franz SCHREKER (1878-1934)
8. Sommerfäden Op. 2 No. 1 [4:01] Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
9. Amoretti from La finta semplice KV 51 [4:59] Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
10. Herbst D 945 [3:35] Christoph Willibald GLUCK
11. Sacre piante from Il Parnaso confuse [10:09] Richard STRAUSS
12. Allerseelen Op. 10 No. 8 [3:16] Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
13. Auf eine Christblume II Mörike-Lieder 1888 [2:06] Felix MENDELSSOHN-BARTHOLDY (1809-1847)
14. Infelice pensier … Ah, ritorna, età dell’oro
1st version, 1834, Op. 94 [12:52]