BERG; WEBERN; SCHOENBERG Songs
The unique selling point of this disc is its valuable gathering together of early, and often rarely heard, songs by the three masters of the Second Viennese School. This is all music from the heady twilight world where Romanticism was giving way to modernism. Schoenberg’s Op 2 Lieder come round from time to time but Webern’s Eight Early Songs of 1901-04 are almost never encountered live and Berg’s Jugendlieder were only published for the first time as late as 1985, all adding up to an enterprising programme.
The performances are always well-schooled and sometimes more than that. In the Schoenberg, Marianne Beate Kielland’s firm mezzo could hardly be more different from the ethereal ecstacy of Barbara Hannigan’s recent live performance at the Southbank Centre. The 13 songs she has selected from the second volume of Berg’s Jugendlieder include some rather gauche settings but also attractive, simple songs such as ‘Tiefe Sehnsucht’, sympathetically sung. In Webern’s more ambitious Eight Early Songs, Kielland and her accompanist, Nils Anders Mortensen, are judiciously expressive, especially in ‘Sommerabend’, the most seductive. Sometimes Kielland might have benefited from transposing the songs down a notch from the printed keys, as her low mezzo can take on a glaring quality at the top. Otherwise, this disc makes a useful one-stop shop for anybody interested in rarities from this intoxicating period, even if the playing time is on the short side.