Christianne Stotijn. Songs by Berg, Schubert and Wolf. Christianne Stotijn/Joseph Breinl: Onyx ONYX 4009

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Christopher Breunig writes as follows:  This collection of songs about dreams and fantasies has been sitting in the equivalent of my ‘in tray’ for far too long, I discover! The Delft-born mezzo has been coached by Jard van Nes and Dame Janet Baker, and was chosen by Haitink for his Mahler ‘Resurrection’ performance at this year’s Proms and a Beethoven Ninth at Lucerne. Her regular accompanist Joseph Breinl (from Munich), also works with Waltraud Meier; the partnership here is tangibly rounded.

The discovery for me was Berg’s Op.2: four short songs that bridge from tonality to atonality in the fourth – which on the advice of Schoenberg he sent to the painter Kandinsky (why he’d asked to see something we are not told in the booklet!). The range required in these settings shows both Stotijn’s flawless control of intonation and expressive powers. Tonally she’s more ‘neutral’ than Baker: it’s a character you wouldn’t tire of and suited to a wider span of composers. The way in which she floats the voice in Schubert’s ‘Nacht und Traume’ is, indeed, the stuff of dreams for the critical collector.

The sound on this 63 minute disc is excellent; production took place at Potton Hall last July. There’s a Mahler follow-up CD too, this time with pianist Julius Drake – ONYX 4014.

Christopher Breunig

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