SCHOENBERG: Brettl-Lieder (Cabaret Songs); Pierrot Lunaire – Jennifer Goltz, soprano/ Gayle Blankenburg, piano/ Inauthentica – MSR

by | Jun 12, 2008 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

SCHOENBERG: Brettl-Lieder (Cabaret Songs); Pierrot Lunaire – Jennifer Goltz, soprano/ Gayle Blankenburg, piano/ Inauthentica – MSR MS 1208, 55:56 ****:

The Brettl-Lieder has had a favorable history on record, though rather slim. None beats the wonderful effort by Marni Nixon on an old RCA recording from the 1970s, not even the currently available Jessye Norman on Philips. “Brettl” refers to the boards of the cabaret stage, hence the alternative name of Cabaret Songs for these works. They have become very popular over the years especially as encores; harmonically satisfying, wonderful melodies, and when performed well, a terrific sense of theater, as Nixon’s performances often were.

The idea of pairing the wonderful Pierrot Lunaire with these songs is a stroke of genius. Far from being an example of disparate or contrary programming, one easily is able to discern the “cabaret” origins of Pierrot. These three groups of seven songs each explore the fevered expression of the poems in a manner almost uncomfortably intimate. Many are turned off by this earliest exploration of Schoenberg outside the limits of tonality, but tonality itself is a relative concept when applied to the work. Expression and communication are foremost in the composer’s mind, and he succeeds in spades.

Jennifer Goltz makes a fine swipe at both of these works, her Brettl-Lieder being among the best, and she knows how to sell the work. Pierrot Lunaire is another story of course, as some of the best sopranos ever have had their go at it, from the lyrical exuberance of Yvonne Minton with Boulez on Sony, Jan de Gaetani’s standard-setter on Nonesuch (still available), all the way to Christine Schaefer and Boulez in a modern, clarity-laden recording of great incisiveness. But Goltz holds her own, and considering the quality of the Brettl-Lieder, I could easily live with duplication. Besides, Goltz brings a certain sense of the non-clinical to the work that is very attractive. Fine sound, excellent performances from a surprising source, and one to be commended.

— Steven Ritter 

 

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