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Von Ewiger Liebe - Brahms, Mahler, Berg: Lieder / Amots-avramson, Zak

Brahms / Mahler / Berg / Zak
Release Date: 03/13/2012 
Label:  Roméo Records   Catalog #: 7288  
Composer:  Johannes BrahmsGustav MahlerAlban Berg
Performer:  Ayelet Amots-AvramsonJonathan Zak

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRAHMS Dein blaues Auge. Von ewiger Liebe. Botschaft. Bei dir sind meine Gedanken. Auf dem Kirchhofe. Verzagen. Der Tod das ist die kühle Nacht. Die Mainacht. Der Jäger. Meine Liebe ist grün. 8 Ziguenerlieder. MAHLER Rückert-Lieder. BERG 7 Early Songs Ayelet Amots-Avramson (mez); Jonathan Zak (pn) ROMÉO 7288 (70:10 Text and Translation)

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Roméo Records has done it again. Having introduced soprano Sharon Rostorf-Zamir to us as a Lieder singer (her usual specialty is Baroque opera), they’ve now uncovered an equally fine gem in Israeli mezzo-soprano Ayelet Amots-Avramson. According to the notes, she studied voice with (among others) Edith Mathis, Hilde Zadek, and Elison Pierce, has sung some operatic roles (including Dido in Purcell’s opera and Cornelia in Handel’s Giulio Cesare ), but largely participates in concerts, both with pianists and chamber orchestras like the Israeli Chamber Orchestra, Sinfonia Raanana, and Israeli Camerata. She is also a member of the Meitar Ensemble, which performs music by Israeli composers in concerts, recordings, and radio broadcasts.

Amots-Avramson has a slight flutter in the voice; it never quite develops into a full-fledged wobble, but it is noticeable. I would caution her to correct this before it becomes chronic. Other than that, her technique is solid and secure, the voice beautifully placed and even in all registers. The voice has an unusually bright, cutting quality, rare for a relatively light mezzo. And, like Rostorf-Zamir, she is a fascinating and first-rate interpreter. All of these songs are alive to meaning, sensitively phrased, and excitingly sung. Amots-Avramson holds very little back emotionally, and when she does cap her emotions it is almost always to hold something in reserve for an upcoming musical climax. She has a remarkable and piquant quality of drama inherent in her timbre that is never forced or artificial. In short, everything flows, and it is, once again, a great pleasure to hear the superb pianist Jonathan Zak as her accompanist. This man is simply a magician at creating and sustaining moods; he never falters, and in so many places, he seems to be coaxing Amots-Avramson into greater expression without prodding her.

My lone disappointment is that in certain songs, particularly Der Jäger and some of the Gypsy songs, the tempo seems a bit slow, but I was raised on Elisabeth Schumann’s bright, perky reading of the first song, a record I acquired as a teenager and have never relinquished from my collection. That being said, Amots-Avramson sings them very well and manages to find little shades of color and meaning in Der Jäger that even escaped Schumann.

Indeed, Amots-Avramson’s attention to color and detail is one of the primary joys of this recital. Not one phrase sounds routine or sung on autopilot and, happily, she makes all her choices of phrasing and color sound fresh and spontaneous, despite however much rehearsal she put into them. At times, it’s almost as if she is running her hand, gently, over the words and music, caressing them in such a way that they emerge from her hand (voice) transformed into something extraordinarily beautiful, even sensual. One gets this feeling from her interpretation of Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder and, oddly enough, even more so in Berg’s Seven Early Songs. Never, in my experience, has the perfumed night of a long-vanished Vienna been so palpably brought to life in the words and music of these exquisite songs.

To put it as simply as possible, Amots-Avramson is a performer who, even on the impersonal medium of a recording, you come to love. Within her chosen repertoire, she is not merely endearing but extremely special.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Zigeunerlieder, Op. 103 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Ayelet Amots-Avramson (Mezzo Soprano), Jonathan Zak (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887-1888; Austria 
Rückert Lieder (5) by Gustav Mahler
Performer:  Ayelet Amots-Avramson (Mezzo Soprano), Jonathan Zak (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Vienna, Austria 
Early Songs (7) by Alban Berg
Performer:  Ayelet Amots-Avramson (Mezzo Soprano), Jonathan Zak (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1905-1908; Austria 

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