Hugo Wolf was an arch-romantic; dead at 42, at least one suicide attempt, final years in a mental institution, disciple of Schopenhauer (as was his idol Wagner), his sensitivity produced some of the most magnificent songs ever penned. Where Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms stopped, Wolf took off. The songs he set--simple looking from a textual standpoint--were given varied treatments that gave new life to each succeeding verse. His chromatic manipulation of the melodic line added a new depth of expression that may well have made him the most expressive exponent of the lied in the Romantic age. Marret Winger is a German singer whose career has so far been a European one, though she studied with Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Edith Mathis, and attended master classes with Fischer-Dieskau and Elly Ameling. Her vibrato surprised me; it is that older style, very intense and fast, actually a very pleasant change from much of what we hear today. It allows the words to be caressed in a very cherished and warm manner that does indeed remind one of Schwarzkopf. My only criticism would be that sometimes the lower register seems on the verge of giving out. Yet her enthusiasm for these songs more than makes up for any deficiencies Overall this is a nicely done bit of singing, with a composer who benefits greatly from this sort of undivided vocal attention. The sound is clear and resonant, with the piano accompaniment refined and satisfactorily blended.
Steven Ritter

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