BRITTEN; SCHUBERT Songs
This year marks the 10th anniversary of Wigmore Hall Live and the label has plenty to celebrate. Its latest disc, from tenor Robin Tritschler and pianist Iain Burnside, shows just what and why.
The recording quality is superb – vivid and immediate, with all the Wigmore Hall’s distinctive intimacy. Burnside’s piano accompaniments glow with colour, a natural foil to the narrower, precise palette of Tritschler, a BBC New Generation Artist 2012 14.
A classic pairing of Britten and Schubert is less a portrait than a snapshot of two artists at contrasting moments in their careers; Schubert’s 1826 (penurious, productive) is set against Britten’s 1958 (successful, modest output), offering Tritschler the opportunity to perform some of the earlier composer’s best-known songs and some of the latter’s least. Britten’s Hölderlin Fragments are the opener, a natural fit for this young Irish tenor’s carefully calibrated expression. There are no dynamic or emotional extremes here but Tritschler and Burnside discover drama in the details – the delicate thread of the vocal legato leading the piano’s groping arpeggios through the cycle’s darkest psychological passages.
Tritschler’s delivery is never overworked, his enunciation clear but always natural, unforced. It’s an approach that gives his Schubert Lieder an attractive folk-simplicity while in Britten’s folksong arrangements it ensures that things don’t get too precious or affected. On the strength of this disc and his recent Signum release of songs from the Great War, Tritschler is a serious new fixture of art-song. Whether he has the power and expressive range for the opera house remains to be seen but on the strength of this I’d be very curious to hear a Peter Quint, a Tamino, a Male Chorus.