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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



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Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Settings of Various Poets
(Deutsche Schubert-Lied-Edition Vol. 29)
Als ich sie erröten sah (Ehrlich) D.153 [2:25]
Minona (Bertrand) D.152 [10:13]
Der Wachtelschlag (Sauter) D.742 [2:00]
Tischlerlied (anon.) D.274 [1:27]
Adelwold und Emma (Bertrand) D.211 [25:55]
Morgenlied (anon.) D.381 [1:43]
Abendlied (anon.) D.382 [2:58]
Trost (anon.) D.523]
Der Vatermörder (Pfeffel) D.10 [5:54]
Ferdinand von Bothmer (tenor); Ulrich Eisenlohr (piano)
rec. Radiostudio Zurich, DRS, Zurich, Switzerland, 29 November-3 December 2007
Sung texts and English translations at the Naxos website.
NAXOS 8.570838
[56:11]
Experience Classicsonline

We are now nearing the end of Naxos’s long traversal of the complete Schubert songs. This is volume 29 and vol. 30 has also been released. I don’t know whether there is even more to come but I have a feeling that we are now scraping the barrel. This is not to say that what is included here lacks interest – little by Schubert’s hand does – but readers should know that we can’t expect to find forgotten masterpieces. Well, maybe after all. Trost (Consolation), written shortly before the well-known Der Tod und das Mädchen, has a similar tone, a similar gravity, similar emotions grippingly depicted. This stands out even more distinctly here since the surrounding songs convey such diametrically opposed moods. Here the singer is also required to go down to the deepest bass register, which Ferdinand von Bothmer does with amazing facility.
 
He has an agreeable voice, flexible with a bright edge to the tone when under pressure. Even so a couple of the songs should have been allocated to a more dramatic voice. In Trost though he seems more or less ideal. The first song, the nervously forward-moving Als ich sie erröten sah, sits well in his reading and so do the short Der Wachtelschlag and Tischlerlied – agreeable but in the last resort still second rate Schubert. Morgenlied and Abendlied, set on the same day to anonymous poems, presumably by the same poet, are strophic and melodious, the one lively and expectant, the other carefree and far from nocturnal. Both are well sung.
 
Of the remaining three songs I have some doubts. Minona, rather long, partly declamatory but also intense, should have been allocated a more powerful voice. Elly Ameling once recorded it; hers was a far from dramatic voice but she still managed it without being too strained. The early Der Vatermörder, written on 26 December 1811 when Schubert was fourteen, is a horrifying tale and one marvels at the teenager’s deep involvement and technical accomplishment but the song is almost superhumanly demanding on the singer. Von Bothmer jumps in at the deep end and survives by the skin of his teeth.
 
The real stumbling-block is Adelwold und Emma, his longest song by some margin, which occupies almost half the disc. It has regularly been written off as a failure – someone called it a ‘do-it-yourself opera’. I can’t find that the various condemnations are wide of the mark. There are moments of inspired melodic invention but by and large it is too unwieldy. I feel no temptation to listen to it again in a hurry. And it isn’t von Bothmer’s fault. He works hard to convince the listener that it is a worthwhile composition.
 
Ulrich Eisenlohr, the mastermind behind the whole project, is as usual a positive partner and his liner notes are illuminating.
 
Readers who have collected this series so far need not hesitate. At least for Trost the disc is a worthy addition to any Lieder collection. On the other hand those with a modest interest in Lieder or in Schubert’s oeuvre at large should first invest in some of the earlier issues.
 
Göran Forsling
 
Naxos Schubert Lieder Edition review page

 


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