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Beethoven: Lieder Und Gesange / Ann Murray, Roderick Williams, Iain Burnside


Release Date: 02/24/2009 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 139   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick WilliamsAnn MurrayIain Burnside
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Lieder und Gesänge Ann Murray (mez); Roderick Williams (bar); Iain Burnside (pn) SIGNUM 139 (2 CDs: 103:03 Text and Translation)


6 Lieder, op. 75. Six Lieder von Gellert. 4 Arias and a Duet, op. 82. An die Geliebte. Sehnsucht. Das Geheimnis. Als die Geliebte sich trennen wollte. Der Kuss. Der Mann von Wort. Seufzer eines Read more Ungeliebten und Gegenliebe. In questa tomba oscura. 8 Lieder, op. 52


The only complaint one can register against this two-disc set is the duration—averaging just over 50 minutes per disc. One wishes the producers had found more songs for these two artists to fill the set out. But that really is picking nits. (Looking at this disc, you will think it is shorter than that, because a typo on the back insert makes it appear that each disc is 43:33, whereas the second is really 59:21.)


Aside from that, this is a superb compilation. One cannot easily compare it to recorded competition, because different discs feature different songs—there is no direct competitor. However, I can say that this stands up nicely to most recordings of Beethoven’s songs, both for the intelligence of the selection and the quality of the performances. An added bonus is a set of program notes by Susan Youens that is a model of what notes should be: informative, engaging, and provocative.


Ann Murray is the better-known singer here, but it is the younger British baritone Roderick Williams who has the majority of the songs, and who steals the show. Murray’s long experience and intelligence are certainly assets, but it is also fair to note some hardening of the timbre (she was almost 60 when making this disc). Williams’s light baritone voice, on the other hand, is fresh and flexible, capable of a wonderful range of color and dynamics. Both singers and pianist Burnside are fully engaged in the music and give performances that completely engage the listener. We don’t think of Beethoven’s songs as being on the level of his great symphonic, chamber, and piano music—and maybe they aren’t. But these are still clearly the work of a master, and this disc is a very strong reminder of that.


The notes also clarify the title “Lieder und Gesänge,” explaining the difference between the two terms (which might translate as “Songs and Songs” without understanding that difference). The English translations by Uri Liebrecht that are provided in the booklet are very good, focusing more on our comprehension of the poetry and less on literalism. The recorded sound is natural and warm; I would have preferred a slightly more favorable balance toward the piano, but that is minor. This is strongly recommended.


FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Songs (6), Op. 75: no 1, Mignon by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick Williams (Baritone), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
2.
Songs (6), Op. 48 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick Williams (Baritone), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1802; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Ariettas (4) and a Duet, Op. 82 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick Williams (Baritone), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1809; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Der Kuss, Op. 128 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick Williams (Baritone), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1822; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Der Mann von Wort, Op. 99 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick Williams (Baritone), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1816; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Songs (8), Op. 52 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Roderick Williams (Baritone), Ann Murray (Mezzo Soprano), Iain Burnside (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1793; Bonn, Germany 

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