> Schubert - Die Schone Mullerin / Winterreise [KM]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Die Schöne Mullerin [65.17]
Winterreise [75.21]
Die schöne Müllerin, D795 [65.17]
1. Das Wandern
2. Wohin?
3. Halt!
4. Danksagung an den Bach
5. Am Feierabend
6. Der Neugierige
7. Ungeduld
8. Morgengruss
9. Des Müllers Blumen
10. Tränenregen
11. Mein!
12. Pause
13. Mit den grünen Lautenbande
14. Der Jäger
15. Eifersucht und Stolz
16. Die liebe Farbe
17. Die böse Farbe
18. Trockne Blumen
19. Der Müller und der Bach
20. Des Baches Wiegenlied
Winterreise D911 [75.21]
1. Gute Nacht
2. Die Wetterfahne
3. Gefrorne Tränen
4. Erstarrung
5. Der Lindenbaum
6. Wasserflut
7. Auf dem Flusse
8. Rückblick
9. Irrlicht
10. Rast
11. Frühlingstraum
12. Einsamkeit
13. Die Post
14. Der greise Kopf
15. Die Krähe
16. Letzte Hoffnung
17. Im Dorfe
18. Der stürmische Morgen
19. Täuschung
20. Der Wegweiser
21. Das Wirtshaus
22. Mut
23. Die Nebensonnen
24. Der Leiermann
Olaf Bär, baritone; Geoffrey Parsons, piano
Rec: June 1986, Lukaskirche, Dresden; December 1988, Abbey Road, London.
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 74855 2 4 [140.38]


Olaf Bär is a baritone with a light, flexible voice that, at times, recalls Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Yet he does not have the same intensity as DF-D; at times this does make a difference, but at others Bärs less complex singing seems to fit the music perfectly.

In this re-release of his recordings of Schuberts two greatest song cycles, Bär shows a great deal of youthful exuberance. In Die Schöne Mullerin, his singing has a simple, almost naïve sound, yet he is capable of becoming profound and serious when necessary, as in Am Feierabend, where he alternates between lightness and dark, between a certain legerté and a more intense reflection. His reading of Des Baches Wiegenlied, the final song in the cycle, and one of unforgettable melancholy, is one of the finest on disc. His clear and light tone fits perfectly with this song of homecoming, and Geoffrey Parsons seems to mould his playing to each syllable of Bärs singing so perfectly that they sound as one.

Bärs voice sounds darker in his recording of Winterreise; it is almost as if he is a different singer. He adopts a different persona in this song cycle of youthful angst, making his voice take on richer, more earthy, colours, singing at times with great force and at others with intense subtlety. His tempi are a bit slower than many singers of this cycle, yet this, too, fits his tone, as does Geoffrey Parsons fine accompaniment. The best example of Bärs flexibility and brilliant reading of this work is in the very first song, Gute Nacht, at the points where the song shifts keys from D minor to D major, then back again. One can hear the two tones of his voice as he changes keys, and takes on a totally different sound at each change. He projects playfulness when singing Die Post, and seriousness in the intense Der stürmische Morgen, and the full pathos of his wide range is apparent at the culmination of the cycle, Der Leiermann.

This re-release of these essential recordings of Schuberts great song cycles in EMIs double fforte series, at a bargain price, is a disc that should not be missed. Any lover of Schuberts lieder will find Bär to be one of the great singers of recent times, who deserves much greater recognition.

Kirk McElhearn

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