Thomas Hampson Lieder Recital
At last Thomas Hampson's Dichterliebe: Schumann's song-cycle was recorded live with Geoffrey Parsons at the 1993 Edinburgh Festival in the context of an unusual and characteristically cunning programme which turns out to be this disc's greatest strength.
Hampson makes his approach, and endears himself to his Edinburgh audience, through a clutch of early romantic German responses to Rabbie Burns. He makes a strong case for Robert Franz in two word-lively songs of departure: the ''twa een sae bonie blue'' are every bit as deep and eloquent as Brahms's own blauen Augen. After Carl Loewe's spooky setting of the question-and-answer ballad, Findlay, Hampson turns to Burns's ''Naebody'' in a bluff, buccaneering performance of Schumann's Niemand, makes a deep-velvet ''roten Roslein'' of the poet's ''red, red rose'' and reveals, in Hochlanders Abschied, the lederhosen peeping under the kilt of ''My Heart's in the Highlands''.
Hampson also gives fine performances of the still underestimated German language songs of Grieg in the six Songs of Op. 48, and uses Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte as a spacious, thoughtful introduction to Schumann's great song-cycle. When Dichterliebe arrives, it is something of a disappointment. Hampson's tempos are slow, encouraging the voice to make a meal out of individual words and sometimes bulgy phrases. The fresh, tender immediacy of the first three songs is all but killed dead; and a laboured ''Ich grolle nicht'' and ''Ich hab' im Traum'' are just two examples of Hampson's missing the intense inwardness of this song-cycle's experience through a somewhat self-conscious awareness of his own performance.'