Virgin Classics here provides a bargain recital recorded in 1990: American soprano Arleen Augér in a programme of general favourites. Recording quality is good but the piano for Augér here in Washington is just a little muffled. For some, this will be a poignant reminder of a favourite coloratura soprano in that a mere three years later she succumbed to brain cancer.
Augér had exceptional, limpid purity and a peculiar plaintiveness of tone; she also demonstrates in the top A's which form the climax of songs such as "Gretchen am Spinnrade" that she has considerable reserves of power. Perhaps a whole programme of 23 songs over nearly 70 minutes is a little too much to take when a soprano of her timbre is singing in that it is harder for such a singer to provide more variety of colouration; she is not helped by the penny-plain accompaniments of Lambert Orkis, who is more than competent and often plays delicately but lacks the imaginative phrasing we hear from Allen's Roger Vignoles or someone like Graham Johnson in the Hyperion series; he is decidedly stilted in the rippling accompaniment in "Auf dem Wasser zu singen" and "Du bist die Ruh'" needs more intensity than either performer provides - try Pavel Lisitsian's version! - but this remains a wonderfully satisfying survey of Schubert staples.