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
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.
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
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
but in the last resort still second rate Schubert. Morgenlied
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.
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
, 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.
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.
Eisenlohr, the mastermind behind the whole project, is
as usual a positive partner and his liner notes are illuminating.
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.
Naxos Schubert Lieder Edition review page