Notes and Editorial Reviews
Intense and enthusiastic musicality inform every performance in this engaging program of mostly unfamiliar music.
This is a wholly delightful record. The Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society sometimes invites distinguished singers to join the instrumentalists in an evening at Alice Tully Hall, and this disc is the result of one such concert with two of America's brightest singing talents. Intense and enthusiastic musicality inform everything they do here, and they show their catholicity of taste in a wide-ranging programme of mostly unfamiliar music. Indeed even the one really well-known piece, "Non so pia", is presented in the unusual guise of an arrangement by Mozart himself for piano and violin accompaniment. It serves as a welcome memento of Miss von Stade's youthful, palpitating Cherubino, seen and heard at both Glyndebourne and Salzburg in recent years. Throughout, her tone and approach remind me of the young Christa Ludwig, except that one would have been unlikely to hear the Austrian mezzo in the French item, Chausson's sensual Chanson perpetuelle, which von Stade sings with dark, smouldering tone so right for its fin de slick eroticism. Judith Blegen is no less engaging in her solo items. She darkens her usually bright soprano for "Ja, wir schwären", an aria with clarinet obbligato from Die Verschworenen, written in 1823, with a typically Schubertian sense of longing. The Saint-Saens item comes from one of his early operas. The vocal line is in an attractively sinuous vein with a violin solo, another example of the French composer's art prompting thoughts that he may be in for a much-needed revaluation.
The Schumann and Brahms duets in varying moods demonstrate the almost perfect blend of the two voices and also the thought that must have gone into their preparation so unanimous is the phrasing. Both ladies sing German, as they do French and Italian, with great fluency. The accompaniments, under the direction of the ubiquitous Charles Wadsworth, are all worthy of the singing, Gervase de Peyer's clarinet and Gerard Schwarz's trumpet being worthy of special mention. Joel de Maria is an anagram of Jaime Laredo, who is undoubtedly the violinist concerned here! The proof-reading and ordering of the texts is poor; otherwise I have nothing but praise for the accomplishments displayed in a more than adequate recording.
-- Gramophone [2/1976]