Mozart Lieder (Edith Mathis/Bernhard Klee: piano, Takashi Ochi: mandoline)



This selection of 17 songs (k152, 178, 307, 349, 391, 472, 476, 517-8, 520, 523, 529, 531, 579 and 596-8) favours the operatic rather than the masonic works; the loge, not the lodge. This in turn favours Miss Mathis, who likes to characterize her singing. In her engaging openness and receptivity of voice and response, all Danaë to the music, new expressive features are manifest. We expect to discern Susanna in Un moto di gioia. But the glimpses of (say) Donna Elvira in Als Luise die Briefe verbrannte, Barbarina in Der Zauberer, and Die Alte (alias Papagena) in Die Alte disclose a wider territory and make genuine discoveries.

    Bernhard Klee too is in many ways a lucky find. For example he performs to perfection that Mozartian légerdemain (as in Der Zauberer etc) of breaking out into right-hand demisemiquavers in the postlude, much as a sleeve breaks out into lace at the cuff, displaying an elegance of wrist and fingers. The quickness of the hand also delights the ear in the deftly delineated gradations of Takashi Ochi's mandoline accompaniment to Die Zufriedenheit.

    The main duo has perhaps one slight blemish, which may not be anyone's fault. Such accomplished Mozartians can hardly be at their best in his best songs, which are Schubertian. So this version of Das Veilchen sounds at the wrong end of the emotional spectrum. Its blandness rather blunts the edge of the excitement that should be shown by the lied's first incisive response to lyric verse. Die Abendempfindung, conversely, seems to me not quite grave enough. In 1787, death appeared to Mozart as comforter and friend; first in the letters, and then in the music-and not only at the famous phrase “Mir weht wie Westwind leise” (which itself is no mere momentary memento mori) but throughout, in sighing melodies and broken 6ths that survived to inspire many a last breath and dying fall in Schubert (Abendbilder, Der Lindenbaum etc). Again the deeper levels of musical response to words are not fully sounded in this performance.

    But if singer and pianist are rather less free and easy in the more open-air style and subjects, and more at home in the salon, the latter is after all by far the larger segment of this disc. In both fields, the Klee-Mathis stock is flourishing, and sets high standards; in the former it could climb higher still.


The Musical Times, Jan. 1974 (p. 45-46) © the estate of eric sams