“For me, the Lied is the natural state where we accompany, observe and recognize ourselves. We are there with our personal feelings, left to ourselves without the direct contact with others (…) There are no limits to longing and imagination in Lieder. Time and again, as singers we have endless possibilities for conveying something quite intimately.” (Elīna Garanča)
On Saturday, 19 September at 8PM CET Elīna Garanča, one of today’s most eminent singers, will perform Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben song cycle as well as a selection of Brahms Lieder – together with the acclaimed pianist Malcolm Martineau. The concert is the basis of her next album, set for release on November 6. The CD is available for pre-order in the DG Store.
The Latvian mezzo has now recorded her first solo recital album for devoted exclusively to this genre, choosing works that she has been performing live on stage for many years with the aim of documenting her personal interpretations of some classics of the German song repertoire.
The programme opens with Schumann’s song cycle Frauenliebe und Leben op. 42. Composed in 1840, it offers a chronological narrative of the different stages in the life of a woman. Garanča sees the cycle as resembling a never-ending journey that can be undertaken at any age, and which you see from a fresh perspective and with greater intensity as you acquire each new experience in your own life. A criticism often levelled at the texts is that they portray women in an overly traditional light. Garanča, however, thinks this is not a work about oppression or self-sacrifice, but rather – in a positive sense – about “wanting to surrender yourself lovingly”.
To complement the Schumann, she has chosen a selection of Lieder by Brahms – including Liebestreu op.3 no.1, Geheimnis op.71 no.3, Heimweh II op.63 no.8 and Von ewiger Liebe op.43 no.1 – basing her choice of material on the desire to juxtapose songs expressing very different states of mind. When it comes to Brahms’s Lieder Garanča particularly appreciates his harmonic writing, which is so rich that she often thinks in orchestral terms when interpreting them. The composer’s down-to-earth idiom is also close to her heart: “Brahms always touches me. He is genuine, earnest and sincere.”
Garanča is accompanied on this album by Scottish pianist Malcolm Martineau, a sensitive and experienced musician who has long been her trusted partner in exploring these emotional soundworlds. The pair have often performed this repertoire together in recital, and teamed up once again to make this recording in Berlin in July 2020.
The album is yet another milestone in the career of Elīna Garanča, who has been one of the world’s best-known singers for more than 20 years, enthralling audiences in both opera house and concert hall with her colourful and agile voice, technical brilliance and exceptional charisma. In recent years she has begun turning to the heavier dramatic repertoire, making her debuts as Santuzza in the verista opera Cavalleria rusticana and as Princess Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlos. Verdi’s Amneris (Aida) and Wagner’s Kundry (Parsifal) are on the schedule for 2021. As she embarks on this new operatic chapter, she is keen to showcase a very different facet of her art with these recordings of Schumann and Brahms. “I love contrasts,” she explains. “I want to demonstrate that I can still whisper and be tender and soft and intimate; that three notes on the piano and an intricate melody can mean the world.”