Mörike-Lieder (Elly Ameling/Dalton Baldwin)
I liked the earlier Wolf readings from this pair (on SAL 3797). However, this sequel is not the last word. Each artist reaches a high level of sensitive accomplishment. But restrained individuality can involve strained duality; and the generally excellent agreement between singer and pianist does sometimes seem slightly unilateral, as if one or the other would have preferred a different interpretation but was too shy to say. Perhaps this is why the tempos are occasionally puzzling, as in Die Geister am Mummelsee, which even for a funeral procession of ghosts sounds several shades too slow; while in Das verlassene Mägdlein the abandoned girl seems rather fast, or at any rate not quite “langsam”. The pianistic detail, though always exquisite, is not always entirely convincing, e.g. in the demisemiquavers of Bei einer Trauung, the pppp of An eine Aeolsharfe, the timing of the final chords in Rat elner Alten. The vocal detail is too often disappointing. Thus the thrill of “Herrlichkeit” in Schlafendes Jesuskind is sadly missed, while the thrill of “küsst” in Der Knabe und das Immlein is, sadly, not. And why chuckle on hearing the last “cuckoo” in Elfenlied?
Where singer and pianist excel is in cool deftness and delicacy. There is a dazzling glitter of glow-worms in Elfenlied, while the buzzing trills of the bee's honey-dance in Der Knabe und das lmmlein are graphic enough to illustrate the experiments of von Frisch. Similarly the silver and bloom in the vocal tone are beautifully apt for the opening of a Christmas rose in the Christblume songs. But elsewhere the same tones from the same team sometimes seem tame. The young Wolf surely clamours for a wider range with a fiercer attack and more bite. Then the effect can be not only lacerating but heart-rending. Such vocabulary was used by the composer himself to describe his “Poems by Eduard Mörike”, and these surely are the lines which successful readings must follow. No doubt they soon will.
The Musical Times, July 1972 (p. 675) © the estate of eric sams