Lachen und Weinen
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Die Unterscheidung [3:48]
Lachen und Weinen [1:54]
Erster Verlust [1:38]
Das Echo [4:48]
Die Männer sind mechant [2:26]
Romanze 'Der Vollmond strahlt ...' [3:20]
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Eight Lieder, Op. 18
Die trunkene Tänzerin [1:52]
Wie St. Franziskus schweb' ich in der Luft [1:22]
Traum [3:04]
Auf der Treppe sitzten meine Öhrchen [0:46]
Von dir schein' ich aufgewacht [1:44]
Du machst mich traurig [2:54]
Durch die abendlichen Gärten [2:00]
Trompeten [4:26]
Kurt WEILL (1900-1950)
Complainte de la Seine [3:51]
J'attends un navire [4:36]
Je ne t'aime pas [3:34]
Youkali [5:20]
Katja Stuber (soprano)
Boris Kusnezow (piano)
rec. 17 April 2014, Kolosseum Lübeck, Germany

The German soprano Katja Stuber studied singing with Christian Gerhaher in Munich, later receiving lessons from Ruth Ziesak in Saarbrücken and Margreet Honig in Amsterdam. Then followed supplementary tuition in oratorio and lied from Christoph Hammer, Juliane Banse and Helmut Deutsch. She performed in Wagner’s Tannhäuser at the Bayreuth centenary in 2011 to great critical acclaim. She has also sung Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel and Xenia in Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. This is her debut release with Conditura Records, where she offers a varied lieder recital of Schubert, Hindemith and Weill. Her partner on this occasion is the Russian pianist Boris Kusnezow.

The title of the CD "Lachen und Weinen" is taken from the second song of the Schubert group which represents two contrasting emotions. ‘Laughter and Weeping’ is the translation, and the songs in this group of six suitably illustrate this theme. Erster Verlust, written by the 18 year old composer, is nostalgic in its depiction of a longing that can never be assuaged. The plaintive demeanour of Romanze 'Der Vollmond strahlt ...' is dolefully characterized by Stuber. In contrast, Die Unterscheidung, Die Männer sind mechant and Das Echo, have a humorous vein running through them. Stuber captures that mood to perfection in a delivery notable for its grace, charm and coquettishness.

Hindemith's Op. 18 lieder make a fitting contrast. I've never heard them before, and it's a pity they've suffered unjust neglect, both in recital and in the recording studio. Their inclusion here helps redress the balance and is warmly welcomed. The booklet notes and song texts are in German only, so I couldn't ascertain the context of the lieder or follow the text of each individual song. I was unable to source any information or translation, which not only limited my understanding, but also enjoyment. What is certain is that these songs strongly challenge the singer. They present wide-ranging technical difficulties in their angularity. At times they sound almost atonal. Stuber confronts the challenges admirably, with ease and fluency, and the complex piano part is negotiated by Kusnezow with consummate mastery.

I particularly enjoyed the four Kurt Weill songs, and these idiomatic and stylish readings are immensely rewarding. Complainte de la Seine (Lament of the Seine), composed for the cabaret singer Lys Gauty, reveals the ugly side of French life. Well characterized by Stuber, the sprechstimme section comes over especially well. The ever-popular Youkali, with its buoyant tango rhythm, proves that these two artists have a real feel for this music and are sensitive to the subtle nuances of Weill's writing. They truly bring these delicious songs to life.

Stuber’s bright, beautiful voice has the advantage of being captured in first class sound with ideal balance between singer and piano. Kusnezow is a sensitive collaborator and is blessed with an expertly voiced piano with a rich warm tone.

Stephen Greenbank

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