The Swedish lyric soprano Miah Persson, although not nearly as famous as two other singers that she closely resembles, Barbara Bonney and Kathleen Battle, is just as appealing when she sings lieder. This collection of songs by Robert and Clara Schumann overlaps with a similar program recorded by Bonney on Decca. She had a famous pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy, as accompanist; Persson has the admirable Joseph Breinl, who understandably doesn't possess a distinctive style. But he's musical and far more than adequate.
There are moments when I had to remind myself that this wasn't Bonney singing - Persson's voice possesses the same fast vibrato, sparkle, and charm for the ear. She has the same freshness and youthfulness, too. Add her excellent musical instincts, and there is no reason to consider her CD an also-ran. The major work on both albums is Frauenliebe und -Leben. As you listen to Persson's young, eager girl express her virginal love, everything seems right. Turn to Bonney, though, and the same songs become subtler and more artistic, with an inner dimension that Persson doesn't really capture. Ashkenazy proves to be as good an accompanist as Brendel for Fischer-Dieskau when they collaborated in Schubert. He's imaginative and yet attuned to the singer's turns of phrase and same expressive hesitations. There's really no contest, appealing as Persson is.
For anyone who is already a fairly serious Schumann collector, the choice may come down to the two programs; on that ground, Persson includes more rarities than Bonney. In addition, Bonney sings the Lieerkreis Op. 39 based on Eichendorff poems, a cycle intended for the male voice - the speaker in the verse is also a man. It can vocally fit a stronger, deeper female voice than Bonney possesses - she sounds a bit thin, artistic as she is.