> Quastoff - A portrait 74321 86952 2 [TB]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Der Zwerg
Der Lindenbaum (Winterreisse)

With Charles Spencer (piano)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Mondnacht (Liederkreis, Opus 39)
Im wundersch"nen Monat Mai (Dichterliebe)

With Roberto Szidon (piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1750-1827)

Eilt, ihr angefochtnen Seelen (St John Passion)
Mein teurer Heiland, laá dich fragen (St John Passion)

With Chorgemeinschaft Neubeuern Bach-Collegium Mnchen, directed by Enoch zu Guttenberg
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Hai gi vinto la causa! (Le nozze di Figaro)
Madamina, il catalogo à questa (Don Giovanni)
Deh! Vieni alla finestra, o mio tesoro (Don Giovanni)
Der Vogelganger bin ich ja (Die Zauberfl"te)
Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen (Die Zauberfl"te)
Pa-pa-pa-pa (Die Zauberflöte) (With Montserrat Caballé, soprano)
In diesen heil'gen Hailen (Die Zauberflöte)

With Württemburg Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jorg Faerber, South-West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jos Collado
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Des besten Königs Wink und Wille (Fidelio)
With Deborah Voigt (soprano) Elisabeth Norberg-Schultz (mezzo), Matthias Hälle (bass), Günter von Kannen (bass), Ben Heppner (tenor)
Munich State Opera Chorus, Bavarian Radio
Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Sir Colin Davis
Thomas Quasthoff (baritone)
Rec 1992 (Bach), 1993 (Schumann), 1995 (Schubert), 1996 (Beethoven), 1997-98 (Mozart)
RCA Red Seal 74321 86952 2 [77.21]


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Thomas Quasthoff is one of the major artists of our time, and this recital, gathering material over a ten year period, confirms his stature in variety of pieces from the central German repertory.

Quasthoff has exemplary control and commanding tone, combined with the ability to colour his voice as required. His performances never fail to give the impression of intelligent careful preparation, and he is therefore particularly adept in the field of lieder singing.

The Schubert and Schumann examples are therefore the highlight of this excellent recital. I have never heard Erlkönig sound so compellingly urgent, so keenly articulated. The other songs benefit from his sure sense of legato, the only caveat being whether it might have been preferable to have some different songs, rather than these culled from within sets conceived by the composer as cohesive cycles.

The Bach performances are hardly less impressive. This marvellous music has a deeply felt quality, which is immeasurably enhanced by the rich sonority of Quasthoff's vocal tone. In Mozart the collection features a variety of roles and styles, and this inevitably raises questions of characterisation. For example, he features as both Don Giovanni and Leporello, but he seems more at home as the former. As Papageno he is fortunate to be joined by Montserrat Caballé, no less, as his Papagena.

Taking the role of the minister Don Ferrando in the closing scene of Fidelio, conducted by Sir Colin Davis, Quasthoff both leads the way and commands the ensemble, which seems entirely right for the dramatic situation. For this is generally a commanding compilation, produced to high standards.

Terry Barfoot

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