The sound on this disc changes from comfortably distant to oppressively close, which renders Brigitte Fassbaender's voice a bit harsh at the climaxes. This is unfortunate, for her performances are both probing and beautiful. She's suitably lively in the early Wayfarer and Wunderhorn songs, while in the Rückert Lieder she displays much tenderness and refinement. Fassbaender's Kindertotenlieder also is finely sung, its emotion sincerely and convincingly communicated. Even so, she doesn't plumb the depths of passion and melancholy the way Janet Baker does on any of her recordings. For his part Riccardo Chailly leads a surprisingly unspectacular rendition of the orchestral accompaniment.