These works were written at a particularly happy time for Schumann;
he had finally overcome the resistance and opposition of his future father-in-law,
Friedrich Wieck, to his proposed marriage to Wieck’s daughter Clara and
they were indeed married in September of that year. This was also the
year that an outpouring of melody and song was to issue from Schumann’s
pen, and his happiness and longing for Clara are discernible in them.
All these offerings are well served on disc, and by
singers such as Janet Baker, Fischer-Dieskau, Olaf Bär, Felicity
Lott, and in the disc I have for comparison, Ian and Jennifer Partridge
(BBC Music Magazine MM122 - 6/1994). There is thus considerable competition.
Lucio Gallo has a wide-ranging baritone, with a pleasant tone, but is
hampered by the extremely slow speeds adopted in Liederkreis,
a cycle of twelve songs; this gives problems with breath control and
phrasing, and I was conscious of difficulties for him in reaching the
end of lines. His diction is clear (the works are sung in German) but,
again because of the slowness, expression is limited. In the well-known
Mondnacht, for example, he takes 5’28" as against the Partridges’
4’12". The Partridge version moves smoothly over the music conveying
peace and tranquillity, whereas Gallo always seems laboured. The accompaniment
from Erik Battaglia is adequate, but again he is handicapped in his
expression by the slowness in approach.
Frauenliebe und leben, a cycle of eight songs
describing a woman’s feelings in love and life, has an equally distinguished
recording pedigree, and here again the speeds chosen strike me as slow,
although sometimes the piano is ahead of the singer Nuccia Focile. She
again has a pleasant enough voice, if with more vibrato than I like
in lieder singing; her diction however is not as clear as Gallo’s and
there is a definite schism in temperament between herself and Battaglia.
Again, and quite properly, the language used is German, but even with
the text I at times had difficulty in distinguishing her words.
The other items are all duets, and unremarkable in
their performance, which really sums up this disc - a run of the mill
account of some lovely music, with the added drawback of slow speeds.
The recording is good, and sounds faithful, but one other severe detriment
I have not as yet mentioned is the booklet. This is written by Erik
Battaglia, and translated into English for the introduction by N. Jamieson;
the phraseology is flowery (either in translation or the original) but
more serious is the lack of English words to the poems. I luckily had
the words to Liederkreis in the booklet with the Partridge disc;
I was able to obtain a translation for Fraunliebe und leben and
In der Nacht at a very useful website called The REC Music Organisation
- www.recmusic.org - which gives a host of translations of various types
of music as well as lieder. Certainly, without the help I should have