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Secret Invitation Christiane Karg/Malcolm Martineau Berlin Classics

WE are all different in our responses to voices.

In the late eighties the voice for the lieder of Richard Strauss was that of soprano Felicity Lott. Her recordings of Strauss's orchestrally-accompanied songs with Neeme Jarvi come close to perfection. Well, the Strauss soprano voice of today is unquestionably that of Bavarian Christiane Karg, whose ravishing tone nudges that quest for perfection ever-nearer realisation in this gorgeous collection of songs: a stream of Strauss favourites and masterpieces; Morgen, Standchen, Heimliche Aufforderung (Secret Invitation) Traum durch die Dammerung, Die Nacht, Befreit, Freundliche Vision; they're all here, spiced with a few fascinating early pieces. And I have never heard a less-overblown version of Zueignung, with Karg finding subtlety where few do. This is a great disc from a wonderful singer, but is the greater for the exquisitely-sensitive pianism of Malcolm Martineau, whose dynamic shading and heart-stopping timing lie at the core of these magical performances and re-define the words "accompaniment" and "collaboration".

Michael Tumelty

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