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<<  -- 4 --  Tess Crebbin and Sissy Kotzebue    TRIUMPHS AND FAILURES

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The first part, Brahms and Wolf, provided a very unusual touch to recitals. One is used to those songs being performed by much lighter voices. The dramatic moment of Das verlassene Mägdlein (a young maid dispirited in the early morning hours) lies just in the accompanist's range with its few dissonant chords and the hypnotising voice of the singer. A voice so dramatic and mature as Meier's is perhaps just too big for the piece.

The Wagnerian uses her singing very cleverly. She decreases her voice on modestly difficult parts and uses the more dramatic moments to show her Wagnerian character. With this technique she got applause after the fourth Lied when she sang, with the full power of a Wagner heroine: 'Iron and steel may dissolve, but our love must exist eternally!'

In the second part, Meier was in her element. The Schubert Lieder are generally more dramatic and more operatic in nature. Especially the Erlkönig showed Meier's versatility. It requires four separate personas: a narrator, a little boy dying, his father, and the elf king. Meier provided her own tone and mannerism for each of these four characters. The seductive elf king sounds dangerously, and dramatically different to the sweetly benevolent father or the miserable boy. This is exactly how it is meant to be sung, but very difficult to do without losing touch with the fast tempo of this Lied.

Der Zwerg has a similar style, describing a dwarf choking a queen out of devouring jealousy. Consisting of a narrator, the dwarf and the queen, there are three different characters speaking. Meier demonstrates a kaleidoscope of colours in her voice, characterizing each of the personas.

Especially the last Lied, Dem Unendlichen, was very impressive. While the texts of the other Lieder were rather simple rhymes in common rhyme schemes like a-b-a-b, the text here is very difficult, both to interpret and to sing. Written by one of Germany's most important poets, Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803) who was known as reformer of the German language, the words are set in a predefined rhythm that had to be observed by the composer.

Aside from her astonishing vocal versatility and dramatic talent, Meier also proved her incredible memory powers with this recital. She sang all twenty four Lieder by heart, never referring once to the text.

At the end, the audience literally exploded in jubilation. So Meier, who seemed to just have finished her warming-up, sang another five encores, interrupted by long applause and standing ovations.

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Copyright © 5 July 2004 Tess Crebbin and Sissy Kotzebue, Germany

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