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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Goethe Lieder 3

Wer kauft Liebesgötter D.261, Versunken D.715, Schäfers Klagelied, 2nd setting D.121, Erlkönig D.328, Hoffnung (Schaff, das Tagwerk) D.295, Auf dem See D.543, Mahomets Gesang (fragment), 1st setting D.549, Am Flusse, 1st setting D.160, Am Flusse, 2nd setting D.766, Johanna Sebus D.728 (fragment), An die Entfernte D.765, Sehnsucht D.123, Geheimes D.719, Der Goldschmiedsgesell D.560, Liebhaber in allen Gestalten D.558, Der Musensohn D.764, Der Sänger, 2nd setting D.149, Nachtgesang D.119, Erster Verlust D.226, Trost in Tränen D.120, Jägers Abendlied, 1st setting D.215, Jägers Abendlied, 2nd setting D.368, Tischlied D.234, Willkommen und Abschied D.767
Johannes Kalpers (tenor), Burkhard Kehring (piano)
Rec. Südwestrundfunk, Karlsruhe, Germany, 22nd and 23rd October, 7th and 8th November 2002
Deutsche Schubert-Lied Edition 16
NAXOS 8.554667 [71:45]

If you have a chance to sample before purchase [available from Naxos or Amazon sites], try the "Schäfers Klagelied" which just about sums it up; there is some beautiful piano playing (from a pianist whose contribution to Christiane Ivenís very fine disc of Mayrhofer lieder in this series has already been admired) and the vocal response is most sensitive. But come a few more dramatic moments and the upper notes acquire an unpleasantly harsh sound. Elsewhere on the disc we can hear that the high notes are clean and true when they are soft but gain this piercing quality when more pressure is put on them.

Ah well, you will say, not many of Schubertís songs are dramatic anyway. Maybe so, but if you have to go through a whole CD with a singer slightly over-parted by the dramatic ones, itís remarkable how many of them there seem to be. Still, all is not lost for there are also a tidy few soft and gentle ones that emerge "unerupted all round", as my dentist used to say when I was much younger. Indeed, looking around for comparisons I found I preferred Kalpers and Kehring in the second "Am Flusse" setting to Fischer-Dieskau and Moore (DG), who are surprisingly cavalier with it. But that is very much the exception; in "Geheimes", "Ester Verlust" and the second "Jägers Abendlied", just to name three, the Holy Writ as laid down by DF-D finds so much more in the music and words. And, admirable as Kehring is, he can be a mite aggressive at times, as I found when I took down the lovely performance of "Liebhaber in allen Gestalten" by Edith Wiens and Rudolph Jansen (CBC) and found the pianist radiating sheer delight in the music.

So all in all this is not one of those Naxos discs that would be a bargain at any price, but itís a serviceable affair if you want to have some of Schubertís best-known Goethe settings together with some of the rarest, of which the two unfinished ones, "Mahomets Gesang" and "Johanna Sebus", have quite extraordinarily elaborate and thrilling piano parts. You get full texts and English translations and the note by Joachim Landkanner, if nothing like the spread we get from Graham Johnson in the Hyperion series, is very informative. Among other things it comments that "Wilkommen und Abschied" illustrates the word "Glück" (happiness) with "a shining C major". Would it did, Mr. Landkanner, for itís sung in D here and the lower key might well have spared us some of the more unpleasant sounds on offer. DF-D, by the way, gives us the "shining C major", but heís a baritone and I wish heíd taken it down to B flat! Why do singers have to push their voices a notch above what is comfortable, especially in lieder which it is perfectly legitimate to transpose?

The unevenness of this Naxos series is making it very difficult to recommend it globally as a way of exploring Schubert lieder; a few have been very fine and worth any price, some have not been worth even the modest asking price, while this one is somewhere in the middle. Overall I feel the Hyperion series is more reliable and justifies the extra outlay if you can afford it.

Christopher Howell

see also review by Michael Cookson


For reviews of other releases in this series,
see the Naxos Deutsche Schubert-Lied Edition page


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