Lieder (Norman, Parsons)

Lieder op. 43 nos. 1 and 2, op. 47 no. 1, op. 58 no. 4, op. 63 no. 5, op. 86 no. 1, op. 91 nos. 1 and 2, op. 96 no. 1, op. 105 nos. 1 and 2, op. 106 no. 1. Norman, Parsons, von Wrochem; Philips


The voice is large and lustrous, full of warmth and sympathy; and it commands a truly im­pressive range of timbre and dynamics as well as tessitura. But that splendid scope is not, at least as I hear it, being subordinated to the service of the songs. Too often the voice governs the verse, instead of vice versa. Climaxes sound as if laid on the vocal fine by external technique, instead of welling from within the words. Thus “ja, ich werde sterben müssen” suggests not so much resignation as indignation, with a pressure of tone better suited to a song called “Immer lauter wird mein Schlummer”. Such over-deliberate effects include many over-deliberate tempos. In Gestillte Sehnsuchtfully two minutes longer than Kathleen Ferrier's fine version, the yearning (whether in voice or viola) never for a second sounds anything other than already stilled, not to say stunned; and this is almost the opposite of what the words actually say. There are of course some memorable moments when the expansive qualities are firmly caught and compressed within the miniature frame of the lied. In Ständchenfor example the independent prelude enables Geoffrey Parsons, with his exemplary sensitivity and experience, to set the scene and the tempo together; and given that unobtrusive impetus the singing takes wing. Elsewhere however one feels that it is magnificent but not quite the genre.


The Musical Times, Mar., 1981 (p. 183) © the estate of eric sams