Guild have established themselves in a comparatively
short time. They first crossed my field of view in 1997 with a series
of releases which included Schoeck and Goossens CDs. They are based
in Switzerland but with an official presence in St Helier in Jersey.
Their products are as hallmarked as ASV, Chandos, Orfeo and Hyperion.
The substance of what they offer is of great distinction and they strive
for and usually attain exemplary aesthetic standards. Do have a look
at their website.
This song recital is a successor to Guild's admirable
CD of Romantic Swiss songs reviewed earlier this year. Both discs are
regrettably rather short in playing time - being less than sixty minutes
- but in every other respect the qualities of both releases are high.
Take for example the notes by pianist Ute Stoecklin and the fact that
full texts are given in the original language (usually German though
there is some Romanche - Switzerland's official fourth language - as
well) and in translation. The text is in clear type with none of the
designer ‘finnickiness’ that 'distinguishes' quite a few classical releases.
The selection of songs charts the poles and tropics
from Schoeck's frank lyricism to Schütter's expressionism to Scartazzini's
The Eichendorff lieder are from Schoeck's comparatively
early maturity. They are ripely romantic charting a heritage from Schumann:
elegies, joy, ballads. Though Leibundgut is a bass he is young and currently
his freshly produced voice has a golden baritonal patina. He recalls
a young Fischer-Dieskau before vocal fatigue set in, hardening and calcifying.
This is by no means a bass with cavernous depths. He is every bit the
serenader. Highlights include the glowing lyrical contours of Winternacht
and Waldeinsamkeit. There is some vocal strain in Im Wandern
and in the heroic ascents of Lockung. Stoecklin, an attentive
presence throughout (and remarkably open-minded given what she is called
on to do in the Scartazzini songs) evokes the glitter and glimmer of
star-shine and moonlight in both Nacht and Nachklang.
Schütter's vocabulary is freer with dissonance
amongst the melody. He indulges waywardly liberal tonality. His tendency
is towards starry textures: Klimt-like and expressionistic. Zona
dal plaschair is very dissonant with a spoken part. The voice seems
lost in a dreamlike pierrot state in Favuogn.
Scartazzini was a pupil of Rihm and Kelterborn. Here
Leibundgut shows his attention to dynamics amid the freely tonal wanderings
of Dieser morgen war. The piano writing is truly dissonant and
the vocal line is almost muezzin-like. Scartazzini's songs are about
as far removed from Bantock's Sappho songs (Hyperion) as you could imagine.
The piano part in particular calls for Cage-ian techniques and the voice
whispers, pitters, patters, groans (like a Tibetan lamasery cantor)
The Scartazzini is unlikely to draw in the growing
band of Schoeck fanciers. Those who take well to Scartazzini might well
find Schoeck just too romantic. The expressionism of Schütter
stands in the middle ground.