Natascha Osterkorn, piano; Ensemble Intercontemporain/Pierre Boulez

Not only is it one of the most engaging entries yet in the expansive Arthaus DVD-Video line, this title comprises the most inventive set of classical films in memory.

Not only is it one of the most engaging entries yet in the expansive Arthaus DVD-Video line, this title comprises the most inventive set of classical films in memory. Collaborating closely with director Oliver Herrmann, glamorous young German soprano Christine Schäfer sings and plays the chanteuse in a pair of edgy performance films, one of Schumann's poetic song cycle Dichterliebe and the other of Schoenberg's avant-cabaret cycle Pierrot Lunaire. In addition, there is an informal, yet acute 44-minute interview with the singer, filmed in a cafe. Schäfer sings the songs of Dichterliebe in a virtual Berlin nightclub setting, with a sexy, arty quasi-narrative woven between the songs; the songs can also be viewed sans the interstitials. The stylish, attractive Schäfer has gained renown for her performances in the title role of Berg's opera Lulu; in Pierrot Lunaire, set in a surreal vision of New York, she takes center stage in what should become another of her signature pieces. Schäfer sings and acts with an intense sort of charm, and her accompanists are ideal (with the Schoenberg featuring the same Pierre Boulez-led recording as on the DG CD). The creators of this DVD deserve laurels for allying freshness and approachability to real, cutting-edge creativity; despite the very European character of these films, they hold appeal far beyond the usual classical audience. Distributed by HNH/Naxos.—BB
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