Peter & the Wolf Opus 67 (12) Sergei Prokofiev
As displayed on this fine collection, Liszt's Lieder is ripe for re-appraisal.
Artists: Diana Damrau (sop), Helmut Deutsch (pf)
Label: Virgin Classics 0709282
The Music: Liszt composed about six-dozen songs during his long career. Apart from warhorses like ‘O Lieb’ (better known as ‘Liebestraum’), they’re not often programmed – perhaps because, early in the 20th century, they were criticized by a leading scholar for their faulty German word-setting and elaborate piano parts. That view has now been challenged, and these charming and dramatic Lieder are at last finding a new place in the repertoire.
The Performance: A gifted Lieder singer with a flawlessly even and shining sound, Damrau knows exactly how to draw the listener into the drama of each song with a whispered vowel, a seductive crescendo or a majestic fortissimo. Pianist Helmut Deutsch proves yet again what a great accompanist he is too: his insights into the atmosphere and psychology of these works are as compelling as Damrau’s.
The Verdict: From the rapt ecstasy of ‘Bist du!’ to the psychodrama of ‘Es War ein König’, Damrau and Deutsch make a cast-iron case for Liszt’s songs to be welcomed into the standard recital repertoire.
Want More? Damrau is on equally exciting form on her disc Coloraturas (Virgin Classics, 519 3132).