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The high point of the Austrian baritone Klimbacher’s CD is songs by his compatriot Friedrich Cerha, a champion of the Second Viennese School who completed the instrumentation for the third act of Berg’s opera Lulu, making possible the celebrated recording by Pierre Boulez. Chera’s settings of texts by medieval minnesingers, akin to lovesick troubadours, sound amusingly donnish, like polite scoldings by all-knowing pedagogues. Klimbacher is fully at home and idiomatic, as he is in a leisurely paced Schumann Dichterliebe. Although Fröschl is elsewhere a witty, vivid accompanist, there is little urgency about the love slowly declared in Dichterliebe. Suave, nervy settings of poems of Paul Verlaine by the mononymous Poldowski, daughter of the Polish violinist and composer Wieniawski, require more plausible Gallic sounds than Klimbacher can manage. Ravel’s ultra-familiar Don Quixote songs likewise fail to convey meaning through word colouring. Perhaps Klimbacher should have opted instead for relative rarities by Roussel or Déodat de Séverac. The CD’s low point is some dreary weak tea from the American Ned Rorem, delivered in perfunctory English.

Benjamin Ivry Read the full review on Agora Classica

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