Beethoven; Schubert Lieder

Wonderful, powerful music-making from this peerless Lieder partnership

Author: 
John Warrack

BEETHOVEN. SCHUBERT Lieder

  • Schwanengesang, 'Swan Song'
  • An die ferne Geliebte

As Misha Donat reminds us in outstanding booklet essays, Schubert’s Schwanengesang divides clearly into eight Rellstab and six Heine settings; ‘Herbst’ is here added to the Rellstab group, while the Seidl ‘Die Taubenpost’ is made into the encore of a wonderful recital.

Goerne and Brendel form one of the great Lieder partnerships of the day. The sympathy between them goes beyond skilful ensemble, and beyond shared enjoyment of the wealth of illustration in Schubert, into a deep understanding of the poetry as he composed it. There is no surprise that these two thoughtful artists should produce powerful performances of the most inward-looking Heine songs – the suffering power of ‘Der Atlas’, the misery from which the harmony allows no escape in ‘Die Stadt’, the terror of ‘Der Doppelgänger’. In its beauty, their shared phrasing springs from an understanding of the meaning of each poem, so that the lighter ones are scarcely less affecting. ‘Das Fischermädchen’ has a slightly knowing lilt, catching Heine’s typical irony in the girl’s false wooing. In ‘Der Abschied’ Goerne’s young man sings happily as he sets off while Brendel’s merry trot tells us that the horse has caught his mood. Their mutual understanding completely solves such a difficult song as ‘Kriegers Ahnung’. And the Beethoven cycle moves in a steady progress not into the usual triumphant assertion but into a warmth of belief that song may truly join the parted lovers. A summary review can do no more than point to a few of the riches to be found in what is music-making of genius.

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