You'll know before the first track is over if this disc of Schubert lieder is for you or not. Soprano Gundula Janowitz was best known as a Karajan discovery -- her recording with him of Strauss' Four Last Songs has a deserved reputation as one of the two or three most voluptuously opulent recordings of the songs ever made -- but she's far more a singer for the opera house than a singer for the recital hall. Just try the first track, Gretchen am Spinnrade: although her performance is consummately beautiful, it is also quintessentially dramatic. Gretchen is a woman wronged who knows she's doomed and Janowitz is tremendously, even frighteningly compelling. For some, her shattering delivery of the climactic line will be too operatic, but no one could deny its effectiveness. Of course, this dramatic approach works better in some songs than in others. Janowitz's Die Forelle is a bit too coy and her "Ave Maria" a tad too sanctimonious. But her Du bist die Ruh' and her Nacht und Traum are rapturous and her portrayal of Mignon in the three Mignon songs is overwhelmingly moving. With supple and sensitive accompanist Irwin Gage captured in splendid late stereo Deutsche Grammophon sound, Janowitz turns in a recital that may not be for everybody, but it will drive some listeners happily mad.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Die Männer sind méchant ("Du sagtest mir es, Mutter"), refrain song for voice & piano, D. 866/3 (Op. 95/3)
Wiegenlied ("Schlafe, schlafe, holder süsser Knabe"), song for voice & piano ("Mille Cherubini in Coro"), D. 498 (Op. 98/2)