Robert Schumann - Frauenliebe

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ROBERT SCHUMANN - LIEDERKREIS, Opus 39 - DIE LOWENBRAUT, Opus 31/1 - FRAUENLIEBE UND LEBEN, Opus 42 - DER NUSSBAUM, Opus 25/3 - LORELEY, Opus 53/2 - MARIE-NICOLE LEMIEUX (Contralto) - DANIEL BLUMENTHAL (Piano) - 822186051597 - Naïve V5159

The beautiful cover photo-portrait of Marie-Nicole Lemieux by Denis Rouvre provides a subtle hint of the album’s contents. She stands in dreamy repose and the skin tones of the image are suggestive of old-fashioned hand-colouring. Her approach to this lieder recital is blissfully objective. There is no imposition of an ‘operatic’ voice. She concentrates on her German diction with impressive results and lets the words of Eichendorff, Chamisso, Mosen, Mönke, Lorenz and Rückert come through to us naturally. Lemieux achieves a perfect symbiosis with her accompanist, the American pianist, Daniel Blumenthal. There is more lyricism than weight of expression which many collectors may welcome in this ultra-Romantic fare. The more emphatic keyboard interpretations of Graham Johnson in his Schumann lieder cycle (with various singers) for Hyperion will be preferred by others.

The recording was made in the warm acoustic of Le Domaine Forget in Québec in November of 2008. Producer Jean Pierre Loisil and balance engineer Pierre-Antoine Signoret deserve recognition for the clear and intimate quality of the sound. The disc makes an excellent companion to Lemieux’s collection of French songs (L’Heure exquise- V5022) by Chausson, Debussy, Enesco and Hahn. For special admirers of German lieder it is certainly worth investigating.

Stephen Habington