In the Chandos release BEFREIT: A SOUL SURRENDERED, the British mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately is kept good artistic company by the collaborative pianist Joseph Middleton, as both artists tackle a dozen and one-half songs by women composers Margarete Schweikert and Johanna Müller-Hermann, along with Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and a brace of Richard Strauss Lieder, including the well-known Allerseelen and Morgen!
Margarete Schweikert (1887-1957) and Johanna Müller-Hermann (1878-1941) belonged to a generation still trapped in the constraints of a society that held fast to the belief that women – even musically-gifted ones – were best suited to a life of child-rearing and domestic tasks. In both cases that was most unfortunate, for both Schweikert and Müller-Hermann were musical artists gifted with career-making talents.
Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder is feelingly sung by mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately, the possessor of a multi-hued voice ideally suited to this repertory, some of which was originally conceived for and performed by high-voiced singers. Singing in the original keys and in idiomatic German, Kitty Whately sustains the long-lined middle-voice legato demanded by Mahler’s song cycle about the deaths of children, while elsewhere neatly climaxing the big moments of Strauss’ Morgen and Allerseelen with her bright lyric voice.
Joseph Middleton proves the ideal pianistic partner in this late Romantic repertoire.
Rafael de Acha © 2022