The Wigmore Hall Live label generally extends great care to the sound of the Wigmore Hall recitals it records and under normal circumstances captures its concerts in a warm, natural, and pleasing ambiance. As Wigmore is a very busy venue presenting -- and presumably recording -- a lot of concerts, not everything is going to turn out absolutely right. It appears that Wigmore Hall Live's Wolfgang Holzmair/Imogen Cooper: Wolf Songs falls short of the mark just a tad, but significantly so. Holzmair is a dedicated performer of Hugo Wolf's who enjoys characterizing these songs and invests a lot of energy in interpreting them; one of Holzmair's earliest discs was a selection from Wolf's Goethe-lieder for the now defunct Collins Classics concern; this program of 26 lieder and an encore is taken from Wolf's settings of Eduard Mörike. Holzmair and Imogen Cooper appear to be putting this material through all of the right paces, and as a live recital this was probably a terrific experience. The recording, though, is just a bit distant and thereby lacks the heft of Holzmair's baritone voice; the piano, likewise, is indistinct and drops below audibility in certain spots. Fans enthralled with Holzmair will not want to avoid this fine recital, and the interpretations of Wolf are strong; however, as a listening experience Wigmore Hall Live's Wolfgang Holzmair/Imogen Cooper: Wolf Songs is a little bit more work than a professional-grade live recording ought to be.
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AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis