SCHUMANN Dictherliebe and other lieder
The Swiss tenor Mauro Peter has the kind of Dichterliebe voice I hear in my mind’s ear: fresh, youthful, evenly produced, with mellifluousness balanced by a touch of metal. He is a sensitive interpreter, too, of Schumann’s cycle of first rapture, disenchantment and bittersweet resignation. In symbiotic accord with Helmut Deutsch, Peter phrases with unforced eloquence, pointing salient words within a liquid legato. His diction is a model, both expressive and crystal clear. With no hint of mawkishness, he excels in wondering or regretful tenderness and Schumannesque Innigkeit.
While Peter’s shy understatement, and his gift of simplicity, bring their rewards, I would have welcomed a stronger infusion of Heine-esque bitterness at what should be the shocking end of No 8 (‘Zerrissen mir das Herz’ ). The more highly strung Peter Schreier and Ian Bostridge are both far more vivid here. And Mauro Peter is not the only tenor to sound stretched by the low tessitura of ‘Im Rhein’ (which needs more variety of dynamics and colour) and ‘Ich grolle nicht’. That said, he adds a welcome edge to his tone in the caustically lumpen ‘Ein Jüngling liebt’ ein Mädchen’, and finds just the right anxious colouring for the funereal dream song, ‘Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet’ (No 13). Like so many other pianists, Deutsch consistently shortens the rests between the keyboard’s drumbeats here. They sound that much more portentous when precisely observed.
Complementing Dichterliebe is a clutch of other Heine settings, including four songs that Schumann discarded from the cycle before publication. Peter underplays the phantasmagoric eeriness that some performers find beneath the amiable surface of ‘Mein Wagen rollet langsam’, though his musing inwardness is effective enough, both here and in ‘Dein Angesicht’, where the chaste fervour of Schumann’s melody cuts against the grain of Heine’s ominous words. In the ballad ‘Belsatzar’ he compensates for his limited dynamic range with incisive diction and an urgent sense of drama. Peter is persuasive, too, in the five Op 40 Andersen vignettes: airy and dulcet in the tiny framing numbers, and finely gauging the disquieting or (in the proto-Mahlerian funeral march ‘Der Soldat’) tragic moods of the three central songs. The ghastly twist at the end of the lullaby ‘Muttertraum’ is pointed without melodrama. All the while Helmut Deutsch is a scrupulous and discerning pianist-partner (‘accompanist’ won’t do here), not least in his immaculate sifting and balancing of Schumann’s fragile, fleeting melodic strands. There is a worthwhile note, though Sony shows scant regard for the Anglophone market by stinting on translations.