“Pierre Boulez's third recording of Pierrot lunaire is an intense yet intimate reading, in a recording that's positively anti-resonant, and which veers, like the music itself, between harshness and reticence.
Boulez's second recording (for Sony Classical), with Yvonne Minton, has long been notorious as the 'sung' Pierrot, flouting the composer's specific instructions about recitation.
This time Christine Schäfer is more speech- orientated, the few fully sung notes perfectly pitched, and although slidings-away from sustained sounds are on the whole avoided, the effect is superbly dramatic in the work's more expressionistic movements. The work's strange world, half-way between cabaret and concert hall, is admirably caught.
In the Ode to Napoleon David Pittman-Jennings has a heavy voice, but he skilfully inflects the sketchily notated dynamics of the vocal part, and the instrumental backing is forceful and well nuanced. The sound may be clinically dry, but this is scarcely a serious drawback when the performance has such expressive immediacy.The disc is completed by the brief, exotic Maeterlinck setting from 1911, whose hugely demanding vocal line deters all but the hardiest. Christine Schäfer copes, while the accompaniment for celesta, harmonium and harp weaves its usual spell. A thoroughly memorable disc.”