The majority of this collection of Lieder, loosely based on the themes of night and sleep, has already been recorded by Christianne Stotijn and Joseph Breinl on a well-received disc for the Onyx Classics label.
Stotijns voice, fulsome in tone, carried the Berg easily and was able to capture the heady expression of his Opus 2 Lieder, written at a time when the influence of his teacher Schoenberg was becoming ever more pronounced. The middle two songs are brief but concentrated, and Stotijn over-emphasised the sch of Schlafen (sleep), a disquieting effect with which to begin the first song. In the final song her emphasis on the word Stirb (die) helped secure a chilly close.
A substantial grouping of Schubert songs followed, including two famous ballads, "Der Zwerg" and "Erlkönig". These were darkly shaded, the tales of death conveyed visually in Stotijns expressions as well as in her singing. The forceful declamation of the narrator in "Erlkönig" was especially powerful, with a persuasive aside to the audience seconds before he spirited his victim away.
The night theme continued through the stormy "Im Walde", both performers making good sense of the structure in one of Schuberts longest song settings. This was the only time where the sense of balance was compromised, with Breinls roar of the wind given extra amplification by a raised piano lid. The gorgeous "Nacht und Träume" countered this, and Stotijns control at the restful close was perfectly poised.
Lighter, too, were the legato of "An den Mond" and the expansively interpreted "Nachtstück", its dark opening giving over to lighter thoughts as Stotijn vividly depicted the old man and his harp.
To finish was a selection from Wolfs Mörike-Lieder. Here the biggest challenge was the larger structure of "Auf eine Christblume I", held together admirably and with lightly brushed upper notes from Breinl securing an atmospheric finish. Weylas song was far more concise, a rapturous hymn to the poets mythical island of Orplid. The gales blew once more for the closing "Lied vom Winde", and while Breinls swirling octaves alighted at obscure harmonic centres, Stotijns authoritative vocal tone remained.
For encores were two more Mörike settings, "Elfenlied" and "Verborgenheit". Stotijns manner interacted warmly with an appreciative audience.