MAHLER: Urlicht

The liner notes indicate that this is the first
recording made in the Menuhin Hall at Stoke D’Aberdon in the UK, which took place between
10 and 13 April 2006. While Eveline Nikkels’ comments about the Lieder are prominent in the
booklet, it is unfortunate that it lacks information about the criteria for the selection and, more
importantly, any background on the talented performers involved. Stotijn has much to
recommend, and audience are just learning her fine talent as she takes on increasingly more roles
in opera and continues to perform Lieder recitals that include the kind of repertoire found in this

In “Zu Strassburg auf der Schanz” Stotijn has some moments of dramatic intensity that set Stotijn
apart from others. Her approach is reminiscent of Ferrier’s effective declamation in some
passages of “Von der Schőnheit” in Das Lied von der Erde. In other pieces, though, Stotijn
reveals a rich contralto, as in “Der Schildwache Nachtlied,” with the full voice effectively
moving in the lower register. That song also contains some remarkably lighter sounds, as Stotijn
captures the drama and lyricism of that well-known song in ways that certainly exceed some
conventional interpretations of the song. Yet the apparently closely placed microphone
overemphasizes the vibrato that Stotijn used in this song. It begs the question of how differently
the voice and performance would appear with another recording configuration.

“Nicht Wiedershen” is another song in which the expressive palette of Stotijn’s voice becomes
apparent, with some of the iterations of “Ade” rendered in a fully supported half voice. With
“Urlicht,” the song used as the title of this collection, Stotijn is equally effective, and the upper
part of her voice is as solid in softer dynamic levels as it can be in the more boisterous passages
of some of the other songs recorded here. Her fervent interpretation of “Urlicht” has a parallel in
“Um Mitternacht,” which is appropriately intense. “Um Mitternacht” fits Stotijn’s voice well,
and gives a fine sense of the capacity of this young singer.

Julius Drake is a fine accompanist, who gives Stotijn excellent support in “Um Mitternacht” and
all the songs in this collection. The attention that characterizes some of his earlier recordings
with such singers as Sophie Daneman is present in this set of Mahler’s Lieder. His pauses and
careful placement of sonorities suggests a performer who knows not only the literature but the
singer with whom he is working. His chamber-music approach to “Ich bin der Welt abhanden
gekommen,” with its interplay between voice and piano is highly effective. In these and other
pieces, Drake does not only set the tone, but helps the singer to achieve it as he subtly brings out
various nuances in the piano part.

This recording of Mahler’s Lieder should introduce Stotijn to an international audience. With a
solidly conceived program of songs that fit her voice, the selection has much to recommend. She
clearly has an affinity for Mahler’s music that bears hearing in additional performances of the
composer’s Second Symphony, something she has done to good effect already in her career.
While the literature performed on this recording is known, the freshness of interpretation that
Stotijn and Drake offer here bears rehearing.

James Zychowicz

image_description=Mahler: Urlicht
product_title=Mahler: Urlicht.
product_by=Christianne Stotijn, mezzo soprano, Julius Drake, piano.
product_id=Onyx 4014 [CD]