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Robert A. Moore
American Record Guide, May 2012

Ziesak’s…readings are more than decent. I concur with Ralph Lucano’s positive evaluation: “a fresh, pretty voice…the timbre is pleasing, she keeps the voice light and even, and her breath control is excellent…she’s a winning interpreter on the whole.” Elsner…is in fine voice here. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Robert Hugill
MusicWeb International, July 2006

Naxos’s Schubert-Lied Edition is organised by poet and this volume is the second of Schubert’s Goethe Lieder. The first volume was sung by the baritone Ulf Bästlein. Here we have the soprano Ruth Ziesak, accompanied by Ulrich Eisenlohr. Eisenlohr is the artistic director of the series but he does not appear on every disc. Not surprisingly, in a recital of Schubert’s Goethe settings sung by female voice, Mignon and Gretchen feature quite strongly. Of the 24 songs on the disc, half of them relate to Mignon. This is partly because Schubert seems to have compulsively re-worked these songs, setting the same poems repeatedly. There are 5 settings of ‘Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt’ including one done as a duet. This introduces the tenor, Christian Elsner who appears in this and another duet as well as being allocated ‘An Mignon’ for his pains. In ‘An Mignon’, Goethe the poet was commenting on Mignon so it makes sense to include the song on this disc but have it sung by a male voice. Gretchen features in three of the songs. Besides the well known ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’, the recital features two excerpts from Schubert’s abortive Faust opera. Gretchen im Zwinger is a haunting incomplete piece. The third excerpt is the ‘Szene aus Faust’, which takes place during the singing of the requiem. A harmonically complex recitative between Gretchen and the Evil Spirit is periodically interrupted by the choir singing verses from the Dies Irae. Here Christian Elsner sings both the Evil Spirit and the choir, skillfully managing to differentiate between them both. One final dramatic work by Goethe is featured; the song ‘Die Liebe’ is taken from his drama ‘Egmont’. This is an attractive and well structured recital. Ruth Ziesak has a pleasing, rather plangent voice whose melancholy cast suits the nature of many of these songs. You will not go far wrong if you buy this disc. Eisenlohr is an exemplary accompanist and his playing is one of the joys of the record. Christian Elsner acquits himself well and I would like to hear more of him. One of the joys of this sort of disc is the discovery of items which you have forgotten or never knew. This was true for me of the two duets, ‘Mignon and the Harper’ and the ‘Scene from Faust’. Elsner helps give these two pieces a strong impact. This is an attractive disc and at super budget price it is highly recommendable.

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