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This is where Renee Fleming proved herself as a voice of international importance, not just with the luster of her instrument but with her artistic integrity. Her song selection includes some rarely heard items such as the 15-minute ballad "Viola" and lots of the Schubert hits, such as "Ave Maria," "Die Forelle" and especially "Gretchen am Spinnrade," which she renders with a chillingly intense sense of drama. Throughout this disc, she eschews the usual tidy, well- mannered lieder approach of so many, giving each song a highly individualistic, even rugged profile. -- David Patrick Stearns
Top Customer Reviews
Since the avant-garde collabaration of Furtwangler ( one of the greatest of conductors of all times and definitely a musician of the top calibre) and Schwarzkopf, not all pianists would follow the footstep of Gerald Moore. Pearson for example is bolder, Zimerman too.
Soloists and their accompanying pianists now resemble the left hand and the right hand in piano playing more: we have more balance instead of just the melody floating along almost like a monologue. We hear more fanfares, more dialogues, and the suggestiveness of the background is now more vivid, and the music as a result is more organic: everything is more at the dictation of music, be it a harmomic or polyphonic line. The part of the piano isn't just some muted properties setting the scene however symbolic that may be, nor is it content just to shadow the soloist. It amounts almost to the whole of the backdrop. It's MUSIC that they are making after all.
I rather enjoy Eschenbach here, no overdoing whatsoever. The reason why we are more attracted to the piano is: the piano is more musical here, if not more beautiful than the voice.
What I find to be the best attribute of the album is Fleming's choice of lieder--a difficult decision since Schubert was a very prolific song writer. She includes both well-known works ("Ave Maria," "Die Forelle" and the powerful "Gretchen am Spinnrade") along with lesser-heard works such as the 15-minute "Viola" and the humorous "Die Männer sind mechant."
Fleming's voice is consistently smooth throughout the recording. Her rendition of "Nacht und Träume" had me slightly jealous. I had never heard a singer handle that song's long phrases at such a slow tempo with ease and consistency. Another performance of note is "Der Tod und das Mädchen" in which Fleming dips into her lower register. Her take on the priestly chant in the last half of the song is breathtaking, and MUST be heard!
If you are planning to sing some Schubert lieder, or are just plainly curious about Schubert's smaller works, I highly recommend this CD. Ms. Fleming has provided one of the most sensitive and thoughtful treatments of Schubert's works that I have heard in a long time.
Speaking of the pianist, Christof Eschenbach overdone it. (However, he did a great job in Renee Fleming's the latest album, "Strauss Heroines".) Sometimes Renee Fleming and he doesn't tie together. Is there any pianist instead of him?
If you are Renee Fleming fan like me, you will enjoy it very much. Or if you are looking for the Beautiful Voice, this is the one. But if you are seeking a unique interpretation, you'll be disappointed.
She can give her voice a delicate, silvery quality and bring her voice to faint whisper and still maintain a a full, rich sound.