Christiane Karg feels close to Richard Strauss, and not simply because they both grew up amid Bavarian landscape. Together with Mozart, the great late Romanticist now plays an ever greater part in her repertoire: she was recently acclaimed in both Antwerp and Ghent as Sophie in "Der Rosenkavalier". Since Strauss has always figured in her lieder recitals, this CD of Strauss lieder comes as no surprise, especially in view of the forthcoming anniversary year, marking the composer's 150th birthday.
Indeed, anyone who has followed Christiane Karg's career will see this new release as a logical consequence. You only have to listen to the timbres in her voice and the skill with which she lends them an artistic and natural touch, and you will hardly be able to avoid comparisons with the great voices of her fach. Christiane Karg's personal choice of lieder combines the familiar with the seldom-heard, lively songs with more reflective ones, and delivers a convincing range that rightly demotes such details to a secondary role.
She succeeds in demonstrating as has seldom been achieved the touching manner in which Strauss's early and mature lyricism is able to transform the great themes of love and transience that were woven into his expression of the Romantic world around him. One especially charming example is the song "Alphorn" written when the composer was a mere twelve years old, requiring an obbligato horn, played on this recording by Felix Klieser. Her pianist is Malcolm Martineau, an exceptional artist in his own right, who navigates virtuoso hurdles with ease while giving the vocal part a steady foundation. One only needs to hear the opening bars of "Morgen" in order to capture that remarkable musical pulse. This is a real summit of achievement!