06 Elina GarancaLieder: Robert Schumann; Johannes Brahms
Elīna Garanča; Malcolm Martineau
Deutsche Grammophon 4839210 (deutschegrammophon.com/en/catalogue)

The great Latvian mezzo-soprano, Elīna Garanča, is already a legend in our time and for the last 20 years has conquered most opera repertory, moving towards more and more complex dramatic roles. Her opera recordings are numerous and all have become runaway bestsellers.

This time however, she is turning towards the German lieder repertoire in contrast to opera. Here she can scale down her voice, become soft and intimate, where “three notes on the piano and an intricate melody can mean the world” (Garanča). For this purpose she teamed up with Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau, himself a sensitive and brilliant accompanist ideal for the Romantic sound world of these songs. Composers chosen were Schumann and Brahms, whose careers intertwined in more ways than one (e.g. the love triangle of Robert and Clara Schumann with the young Brahms!).

The opening selection is Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben, a series of eight songs chronicling, step by step, a woman falling in love with a man. Beginning with love at first sight (Seit ich ihn gesehen) and admiration of her lover (Er, der Herrlichste von allen) to renouncing her girlish pleasures and finally total surrender (An meinem Herzen), engagement (Du Ring en meinem Finger), marriage and presumed consummation. Emotionally each song is a world in itself and Garanča always finds the right expression and mood through her wonderful intonation, inflection and her perfect German diction. Similarly for the other 13 love songs, although “Brahms is more down to earth, earnest and sincere exploring different states of mind and his beloved nature e.g. Die Mainacht, O kühler Wald” (her words again). Garanča is most impressed by the beautiful harmonic writing that influences her interpretations. Very rewarding listening.

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