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Alla Breve

March 06, 1994|WALTER PRICE

BRIGITTE FASSBAENDER. Schubert Lieder, with Cord Garben, piano. Sony SK 53 104. In these 24 songs to Goethe texts, Fassbaender shows it is possible to use an unremarkable instrument and still achieve telling lyric and dramatic points in Schubert. The bottom notes are mostly taken on faith and the top can occasionally be a stretch--the Berlin-born mezzo is now 55--but her low-key approach to such dramatic giants of the repertory as "Erlkonig" and "Ganymed" eschews an "operatic" approach and is all the more effective for it. A deceptively simple, but lovingly controlled "Meeres Stille," the three Mignon songs, especially a limpid "Kennst du das Land," are standouts, as is the gentle humor of "Liebhaber in allen Gestalten." Most singers should pray for a collaborator as knowing and sensitive as Garben.

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