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Wolf Choices

available at Amazon
Wolf Songs, Bostridge/Pappano

available at Amazon
Wolf Songs, Güra/Schultsz
Wolf’s Mörike-Lieder on Ian Bostridge’s latest CD invite comparison to Werner Güra’s all-Mörike recital from earlier this year (HMU 901882), because they have a dozen songs in common. It is tempting to distill the difference between the two into a generalization: Bostridge the interpreter, Güra the singer.

Bostridge sharply divides Lieder-lovers into those who adore him and those who can’t stand him. He often sounds stilted, always self-conscious and usually terribly laden with meaning. But even when he manages to out-Fischer-Dieskau Fischer-Dieskau, despite him getting bogged down with detail and nuance so much that the greater picture is threatened to be lost, regardless that he makes singing sound like writing a dissertation instead of fun, I like many of Bostridge’s recordings – especially his Schumann. And if his fussy Winterreise was not my cup of tea, his Schöne Müllerin has plenty of charm. His superbly articulated German (he enunciates better than most native German speakers), his delicacy: It’s all like a pair of milky-white hands with pristinely manicured fingernails and well-managed cuticles, gently folded, one over the other. It has its own appeal – a studied fragility.

What does not quite go along with this style is Antonio Pappano’s perfectly accomplished but obvious and dutiful accompaniment. One wishes for the cat-like purring with which Uchida supported Bostridge in the Müllerin or the nuance of a Gerald Moore. Jan Schultzs, who accompanies Güra, displays more warmth, which is much in line with Güra’s rounder, more natural tone. Bostridge fans will find the Wolf a splendid addition to his Lieder discography, others will find that Güra is more likely to invite repeat listening.

EMI 342256 & HMU 901882

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