Marie-Nicole Lemieux: contralto; Daniel Blumenthal: piano
SCHUMANN: FRAUENLIEBE UND LEBEN (L’AMOUR ET LA VIE D’UNE FEMME), OPUS 42;
LIEDERKREIS OPUS 39 & CHOSEN LIEDER : STILLE TRÄNEN, DIE LÖWENBRAUT, LORELEY, ER IST’S, WIDMUNG, DER NUSSBAUM
Wholenote Discoveries - June 2009
What a treat to listen to a goodly measure of Schumann’s vocal music sung in full, rich and womanly contralto. Marie-Nicole Lemieux, though still in her early thirties, displays the maturity of tone and dramatic sensitivity demanded by this quintessential Romantic genre. Whether playing the young betrothed made breathless by the excitement of her approaching nuptials or evoking the first stirrings of motherly instinct or the grief of widowhood, Lemieux delivers a stunning and credible execution. And accompaniment by Daniel Blumenthal is most expressive whilst never overreaching the support role and yet is quite unique in its tone and pacing compared with other performances of this repertoire. In addition to Frauenliebe und-Leben, Lemieux and Blumenthal perform another of Schumann’s song cycles, Liederkreis, as well as five other Schumann lieder: Die Löwenbraut, Der Nussbaum, Er Ist’s, Lorelei, and Widmung. While Frauenliebe und-Leben and Die Löwenbraut work within a narrative framework, Liederkreis and other selections simply evoke the atmospheric qualities of Romanticism: nature, sentimentality and longing, alongside a most seductive fear of the dark and the unknown. The obsessive spirit of Schumann’s total immersion in lieder in 1840 along with his idealized perception of womanhood which drove his pursuit of Clara is well realized by these two exceptional performers. Dianne Wells
A thoughtful and compassionate intepretation from a wonderful Canadian singer.
Contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux has received international acclaim for her Lieder singing, and showcases her talent on this new disc on the Niave label. Following up on her successful 2005 release of French Chanson on the Niave Label, Lemieux takes on two of the essentials of the Schumann Lieder cycles, Liederkreis op.39, and Frauenliebe und Leben. From the beginning of Liedrekreis' 'In der Fremde', Lemieux provides us with the longing and melancholy that Schumann demands. Her emotional singing throughout both cycles draws the listenner in to the text. Her honey-like voice shines through the disc and provides a different colour to the songs than one would get from a Soprano or Baritone. Daniel Blumenthal provides solid and empathetic accompaning; not lacking, but not overbearing. One of the highlights of the disc is the inclusion of Widmung, a dedication Schumann wrote to his wife Clara. Liemieux shines on this piece and it is the perfect closing work for the recording. Marie-Nicole Lemieux shows she rivals the great female Lieder interpreters like Schwarzkopf and Ludwig. A fantastic recording!