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Pauline VIARDOT (1821-1910)
Deutsche Lieder
Miriam Alexandra (soprano)
Eric Schneider (piano)
rec. Studio, ehemaliger Sender Britz, Berlin, August and September 2016.

The name and music of Pauline Viardot García, the sister of Maria Malibran, are slowly making headway. I have a few discs of her songs. She first gained celebrity status as a mezzo-soprano. Saint-Saëns wrote in her obituary that music was for her “the air that one breathed”. Her talents however, were many. She was a composer, also of opera. She was regarded as a great teacher; she taught her own three daughters who all entered the world of music. She often played piano duets with Clara Schumann. She was also skilled in languages, as can be seen from her songs. This disc of German songs features her own translations of Pushkin and of Turgenev who is thought to have been her lover.

This valuable disc concentrates on Viardot’s German songs (other discs I have of her music focus on French and Russian repertoire), so it is a must for anyone interested in her music. There are some lovely songs here. Her setting of Mörike’s Der Gärtner is charming, as is that of Morgenlied by Müller. The tenderness in Die Meise could be said to indicate the affection she held for Turgenev, whom she described as the “great love of my life”. Her seven settings of Pushkin are worth a mention: a French woman of a Spanish family sets Russian poetry in German, and can still express the range of emotions in the texts. These songs make a fine addition to any collection of 19th century lieder. They are not as complicated and musically dense as Robert Schumann’s songs, but they fit well within the tradition of the period.

Miriam Alexandra is a fine interpreter of this music. On occasion she seems to have been recorded a little too closely for my liking, and this makes her voice over-bright, but only on two or three tracks. Eric Schneider proves a sensitive accompanist. The recording, apart from the few tracks already noted, is very good and has a natural feel, so it is a shame for those to detract from the rest of the disc. That is why, if all I wanted was a disc of Pauline Viardot’s songs, I would rather recommend Karin Ott’s fine recital of the French songs (CPO 999 044-2).

Stuart Sillitoe
1. Mein Fluss [6:39]
2. Der Gärtner [1:33]
3. Er ist’s [1:50]
4. Nixe Binsefuß [3:30]
5. In der Frühe [2:54]
6. Das verlassene Mägdlein [2:22]
7. Die Soldatenbraut [1:51]
8. Agnes [2:57]
9. Morgenlied [2:54]
10. Im April [2:57]
11. Zwei Rosen [1:04]
12. Der Gefangene [2:39]
13. Auf die Rose [1:20]
14. Die Meise [1:55]
15. Auf Grusiens Hügeln [1:54]
16. O sing, du Schöne, singe mir nicht [2:48]
17. Märchen [3:26]
18. Verlangen [1:35]
19. Des Nachts [2:35]
20. Die Kapelle [2:57]
21. Die Klagende [2:04]
22. Rätsel [3:17]
23. Das Blümlein [2:51]
24. Das Vöglein [2:37]
25. Allein [2:07]
26. Die Sterne [3:26]
27. Die Beschwörung [2:59]



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