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CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline


Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
Complete Songs
Four Songs by Friedrich Rückert, Op. 12 [9:15]
1. Er ist gekommen [2:20]
2. Liebst du um Schönheit [2:12]
3. Warum willst du and’re fragen [2:24]
4. Die gute Nacht [2:19]
Six Lieder, Op. 13 [13:46]
5. Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen (second version) [2:25]
6. Sie liebten sich beide (second version)[2:03]
7. Liebeszauber [2:17]
8. Der Mond kommt still gegangen [1:53]
9. Ich hab’ in deinem Auge [1:54]
10. Die stille Lotusblume [3:14]
Six Lieder from Jucunde, Op. 23 [13:41] (11-16)
11. Was weinst du Blümlein [2:02]
12. An einem lichten Morgen [2:50]
13. Geheimes Flüstern [3:08]
14. Auf einem grünen Hügel [2:14]
15. Das ist ein Tag [1:21]
16. O Lust, O Lust [2:06]
17. Der Abendstern [2:15]
18. Am Strande [2:36]
19. Ihr Bildnis (first version of Op. 13 No. 1) [2:46]
20. Volkslied [3:01]
21. Sie liebten sich beide (first version of Op. 13 No. 2) [2:20]
22. Loreley [2:23]
23. O weh des Scheidens [2:38]
24. Mein Stern [1:43]
25. Beim Abschied [4:24]
26. Das Veilchen [2:01]
27. Der Wanderer [1:43]
28. Der Wanderer in der Sägemühle [2:14]
29. Walzer [3:33]
Dorothea Craxton (soprano); Hedayet Djeddikar (piano)
rec. Schumannhaus, Zwickau, Germany, 23-28 July 2007
Sung texts and English translations can be accessed at
NAXOS 8.570747 [70:17]


Experience Classicsonline

On CPO there is a disc with Gabriele Fontana, supposed to cover the complete songs by Clara Wieck Schumann. It was released in 1994. It also includes songs by Rimsky-Korsakov. I haven’t heard that disc and further search on the web didn’t give any hits. This new Naxos seems promising since it also includes first versions of two of the songs from Op. 13. Moreover it was recorded in the Schumannhaus in Zwickau on Clara’s own fortepiano. A period performance in other words. Alas the outcome is far from convincing. There is nothing wrong with the instrument, Hedayet Djeddikar plays well – though it should be said that many of the accompaniments are rather simple. The songs are also, as far as the earlier ones in Op. 12 and 13, rather simple but many of them beautiful miniatures. Warum willst du and’re fragen (tr. 3) from the first collection and Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen (tr. 5) from the second stick at once, as does Liebst du um Schönheit (tr. 2) but here we are spoilt by Gustav Mahler’s setting of the same Rückert text.

The Six Lieder from Jucunde Op. 23 are a different matter. They were composed almost ten years later, in 1853, when Robert and Clara had moved to Düsseldorf. Robert had read Hermann Rollert’s novel Jucunde and thought the poems ‘very musical’ and he obviously inspired his wife to set some of them. By then she was in an altogether bolder mood, more powerfully expressive and with a more active and independent piano part. They are perhaps less melodically enticing but with a greater sense of true Lieder. Some of them are attractively lively, not least Das ist ein Tag and O Lust, O Lust. In that last song the piano part is strong and stormy, full of passion.

After this group follows a number of independent songs, mostly from her first Lieder period. Der Abendstern is beautiful and the Robert Burns setting Am Strande has atmospheric rippling water in the accompaniment. Heine’s turbulent Loreley is also a fine composition and the concluding Walzer is a jolly piece.

Das Veilchen is interesting since it is the same Goethe poem that Mozart set. Clara had met Goethe in her childhood and played for him several times in October 1932, and he had given her a medallion with his likeness on it in return. She had also heard Mozart’s setting just a few months before composing her own version but obviously forgotten all about it. Her husband had liked her setting but it can’t compare with Mozart’s. This was to be her last song, composed just after the Jucunde songs. After Robert’s demise she ceased composing altogether.

There is no denying that Clara Schumann’s compositions should be taken seriously and there is a lot to admire and return to on this disc. Unfortunately the singing gives very little pleasure. I don’t know if Dorothea Craxton had an uncommonly bad week in the end of July 2007 or if she simply wasn’t up to the requirements. Her tone is … well, bright but in the wrong sense; it is actually shrill and too often undernourished. Intonation falters not infrequently and she has a habit to start a long tone straight: without vibrato and then gradually open up. This creates a sense of constant plaintiveness, whatever the contents of the songs. Some of the songs fare better than others but in the Jucunde songs, which have claims to be some of Clara’s best, she is sorely overpowered, squeezes the tone and produces that hooting sound of some over-aged sopranos from the acoustic era.

To her credit it should be said that she has clearly studied the songs carefully, that she often is finds the right nuances and she has fine sense for the musical phrase. The early songs are generally held on an intimate scale – maybe too small-scale. In Heine’s Volkslied, one of the finest songs, she is at her best vocally, where the low tessitura brings out her mid-range to good advantage. By and large, however, there is far too much compromised singing to make this a recommendation.

Not having heard the CPO disc I can anyway recommend BIS-CD-738, where Swedish soprano Christina Högman sings ten of these songs and complements them with ten of Fanny Mendelssohn’s finest songs and a handful of songs by Alma Mahler.

Göran Forsling 




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