Lois Marshall, mezzo-soprano, & William Aide, piano. CBC Recording PSCD 2019.
This recording is taken from what must have been a remarkable concert at Hart House, University of Toronto, on October 29, 1978, part of CBC producer Srul Irving Glick's survey of the complete chamber music, and much of the solo vocal repertoire, of the tormented genius Robert Schumann. This particular recital brings together Lois Marshall's performance of all three of the song cycles Schumann wrote in 1840, when he suddenly became obsessed with song after an earlier history largely of neglect, now commenting, "I could sing myself to death like the nightingale."
The value of preserving this recital on CD is the way in which it adds to our experience of a great lieder specialist. By the 1970s, Marshall had transformed herself, presumably out of necessity, from a soprano to a lower-voiced mezzo, and indeed, even here, the top of the voice occasionally misses the freedom and ecstasy of her earlier years. But nothing had lowered the emotional commitment and openness of her singing; if anything, the feelings communicated seem more intense, more spontaneous. Her interpretation of the psychological and spiritual worlds within these cycles has the second-nature inevitability of the most sensitive and profound artist.
William Aide provides a strong-toned yet still gentle pianistic context for Marshall's singing, creating a suppleness of response that allows her to live vividly in each moment. Schumann's Liederkreis (Op. 39; poems by Joseph von Eichendorff) is the most potent performance of the three, wondrously poetic and nuanced. Frauenliebe und -leben (Op. 42; to rather sickly sentimental musings by Adalbert yon Chamisso) has become ideologically difficult for contemporary sensibilities due to its idolization of the male, but Marshall's sincerity and musicianship raise it to an appropriate, higher plane. Dichterliebe (Op. 48; poems by Heinrich Heine) achieves less of an artistic unity, perhaps because of its extended length, but individual songs such as "Ich grolle nicht" prove indelible. (It's wise to listen to the three cycles on separate occasions, rather than attempting the one-two-three of the CD, they need space around them to release their special qualities.)
Younger listeners discovering Marshall through these re-released recordings may have an even greater experience than those who are remaking an acquaintance tinted by nostalgia. This CD restores Marshall's art to life.
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|Article Type:||Sound Recording Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2000|
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