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Robert SCHUMANN (1810Ė1856)
Dichterliebe, op. 48 (1840)
Im wunderschönen Monat Mai [1:26]; Aus meinen Tränen spriessen [0:47]; Die Rose, die Lilie [0:36]; Wenn ich in diene Augen seh [1:31]; Ich will meine Seele tauchen [0:50]; Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome [2:22]; Ich grolle Nicht [1:39]; Und wüsstens die Blumen, die kleinen [1:09]; Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen [1:23]; Hör ich das Liedchen klingen [2:54]; Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen [1:06]; Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen [1:59]; Ich hab im Traum geweinet [2:08]; Allnächtlich im Traume [1:12]; Aus alten Märchen [2:17]; Die alten, bösen Lieder [4:27]
Fünf Lieder nach Heinrich Heine

Dein Angesicht, Op.127 No. 2 [2:40]; Die beiden Grenadiere, Op. 49 No. 1 [3:34]; Die feindlichen Brüder, Op. 49 No. 2 [2:22]; Belsatzar, Op. 57 [4:40]; Abends am Strande, Op. 45 No. 3 [3:11]
Liederkreis, Op. 24 (1840)
Morgens steh ich auf und frage [1:16]; Es treibt mich hin [1:11]; Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen [3:23]; Lieb Liebchen, legs Händchen [1:05]; Schöne Wiege meiner Leiden [3:51]; Warte, warte, wilder Schiffmann [1:49]; Berg und Burgen schaun herunter [3:19]; Anfangs wollt ich fest verzagen [0:54]; Mit Myrten und Rosen [3:53]
Roman Trekel (baritone), Oliver Pohl (piano)
rec. Andreaskirche, Berlin Wannsee, 21Ė25 November 2005
OEHMS CLASSICS 0C 571 [65:19]
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Ever since I heard his Winterreise in the Naxos Schubert cycle some years ago I have felt that Roman Trekel is among the best of present day Lieder singers. This Schumann recital only confirms that impression. He has a bright, flexible high baritone, brilliant on the top and with an enviable gift for soft and mellifluous singing. It is not surprising to note that Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was one of his teachers; he has clearly learnt a thing or two from the older master. That said, he has a distinct style of his own and avoids the over-emphatic dynamic and verbal pointing that could sometimes disfigure some of DF-Dís readings. When it comes to Dichterliebe it was Fischer-Dieskauís early recording with Jörg Demus that was my introduction to the cycle, or rather half of it in the shape of eight songs on an EP. I eventually wore it out and bought an LP with Gérard Souzay that I still treasure. Later several others have accompanied me home from the record store. My two favourites today, among baritones, are Fischer-Dieskauís version with Christoph Eschenbach and Tom Krauseís possibly not so well-known Finlandia recording. Trekel differs from both in several respects but his reading is equally valid.

Dichterliebe requires a singer with two different voices: the majority of the songs need a light tenoral tone, sometimes mercurial (Die Rose, die Lilie), sometimes dreamily romantic (Wenn ich in deine Augen she) or with the manner of the carefree nature lover (Im wunderschönen Monat Mai). Others need a marrow-deep low register with power and authority (Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome, Ich grolle nicht, Die alten, bösen Lieder) and the ability to move easily between the two extremes.

Trekelís primarily light voice has all the required heft and a song like Ich grolle Nicht reminds us that he also is an important opera singer. I saw him as a more or less ideal Pelleas in Berlin a few years ago, a role that hovers between tenor and baritone and is close to Lieder singing in expression. Just as in that role he has penetrated the songs and the texts and found the right mode for each. Und wüsstenís die Blumen is light and swift, Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen brilliant, Hört ich das Liedchen klingen is soft and inward with the pain withheld but shining through in a slightly fluttery pianissimo. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen is full of vitality, even joy, but the final line again reveals that hidden pain. When we reach the final songs there are surprises. Allnächtlich im Traume is sung almost staccato, as if he is searching for words, while the final song, Die alten bösen Lieder is swift and bright. The whole cycle feels fresh and youthful.

The five Heine songs are also well characterised. Dein Angesicht is sung with lyrical beauty, Die beiden Grenadiere is relatively restrained but emotional, something that also permeates its companion piece Die feindlichen Brüder while Belsatzar with its stormy accompaniment is deeply felt.

Liederkreis Op. 24, which was Schumannís first essay at a song cycle, shows Trekel again responsive to the nuances and there is nothing mechanical or metronomic about the performances. Every phrase is alive, Schöne Wiege is as good an example as any. Berg und Burgen schaun herunter which depicts a sailing tour on the Rhine, is full of restrained joy. Even though he sings of "internal death and night" the song ends with a "mild smile", which becomes the overriding experience of the song.

Generally speaking Trekel chooses relatively moderate tempos but timings are not always a measure of the feeling a reading conveys to the listener. To me the whole disc felt organically thought through and there are no quirky eccentricities. The booklet has all the texts but no translations. The sound is on a par with the performances.

Among the plethora of recordings of these popular song cycles it is not easy to pick a clear winner. Fischer-Dieskauís are central readings. Tom Krauseís Dichterliebe is perhaps the warmest and most beautiful of all. If one prefers a tenor in these songs Peter Schreierís Orfeo disc, recorded only four years ago, is so fresh and insightful (review). The Liederkreis also exists in a fine recording with Brigitte Fassbaender at budget price (review).

All the above discs will for ever be on my, and I would think many a Lieder loverís, ranking list but Roman Trekel also belongs there. Someone buying this music for the first time could do much worse than starting here and the person in question will be richly rewarded.

Göran Forsling


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