This little Delphian release, by the delightful soprano Lucy Crowe and baritone William Berger, with accompanist Iain Burnside, offers a program close to what might have been heard in a drawing room in the middle 19th century in Germany or England. The duet was a less artistically ambitious form than the solo song, and as the century wore on and the cult of individual genius grew, it fell out of fashion. Even here, only the later pieces by Robert Schumann touch on the harmonic depths of the solo song. Yet there's not a single work here that's not well made. The songs are short, with the soprano line front and center in most of the songs, and the poetry sticks to familiar themes of love and home. The most important find for many listeners will be the songs of Peter Cornelius, a German composer who was an acquaintance of Wagner, but wrote music in a more conservative vein. His songs are little bits of charm; sample the slight but entirely effective nervous keyboard part of Der beste Liebesbrief (The Best Love Letter, track 14). There are some wonderful pieces by Mendelssohn that aren't in general circulation. Crowe's voice, relaxed and suited to the dimensions of the music, but with a bit of patina, is another major attraction, and the acoustic environment doesn't swallow up the music. A must for anyone interested in the musical world in which Schumann's music was played.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Duette für Sopran und Bass, Op. 16|
|Sechs Duette, Op. 63|
|Drei zweistimmige Lieder, Op. 6|
|Drei Lieder für zwei Singstimmen, Op. 77|