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Franz Peter SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
24 Lieder
Great Recordings of the Century

Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano)
Edwin Fischer (piano, tracks 3-14)
Gerald Moore (piano, tracks 1-2; 15-22)
Geoffrey Parsons (piano, 23, 24)
Recorded at the No. 1 Abbey Road Studio, London 21/5/1948 (tracks 1 , 2), 4-7/10/1952 (tracks 3-14), 9 , 10/1/1954 (tracks 15 , 16), 11/6/1957 (track 17) and 7/12/1962 (track 18). Recorded at the Gemeindehaus, Berlin-Zehlendorf 22-27/8/1965 (tracks 19-22) and 21-29/4/1966 (track 23 , 24) ADD
EMI CLASSICS 5 62754 2 [74:17]

1) Die Vögel
2) Liebhaber in allen Gestalten
3) An die Musik
4) Im Frühling
5) Wehmut
6) Ganymed
7) Das Lied im Grünen
8) Gretchen am Spinnrade
9) Nahe des Geliebten
10) Die junge Nonne
11) An Silvia
12) Auf dem Wasser zu singen
13) Nachtviolen
14) Der Musensohn
15) Litanei
16) Ungeduld
17) Heidenröslein
18) Der Jungling an der Quelle
19) Der Einsame
20) Die Forelle
21) Liebe schwarmt auf allen Wegen
22) Seligkeit
23) An mein Klavier
24) Erlkönig

This is a wonderful and most welcome release of Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s Schubert recordings. They were made between 1948 and 1966. Amazingly Schwarzkopf stated her doubts concerning the propriety of a woman’s voice singing most of Schubert's songs.

The majority of Schubert’s songs were not only first performed by men but his settings were of poems that looked at life and love from a man's point of view, although today it is common for woman to sing Schubert lieder. It is regretful that Schwarzkopf never recorded Schubert’s two great song-cycles Winterreise and Die Schöne Müllerin although Winterreise entered her repertoire later in her career.

Such gender concerns, and any others, can immediately be set aside once Schwarzkopf, accompanied by Gerald Moore, embarks on the two tiny songs with which this programme opens and then launches into what is undoubtedly one of the greatest Schubert recitals ever recorded. In the next twelve songs Schwarzkopf is accompanied by Edwin Fischer, a peerless Schubertian in unforgettable and noble performances. Gerald Moore returns as the distinguished accompanist in another eight lieder with Schwarzkopf being joined by the eminent Geoffrey Parsons for the final two works on the recital

In the 1948 and 1952 recordings, Schwarzkopf’s soprano is engaging, youthful and fresh. No less impressive are the subsequent performances with Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons which cover the next fourteen years on this disc where our soprano’s interpretations sound particularly spontaneous and relaxed with that incredible golden tone.

Schwarzkopf’s involved performance of Erlkönig, one of her own favourite Schubert songs, is full of drama and is my personal favourite on this collection by a considerable distance. I have never come across a singer of lieder who sings with as much expression combined with a sublime beauty of tone in this almost faultless collection of songs.

The sound quality of the digitally remastered recording is excellent. Lieder recitals just don’t get much better than this. Truly a great recording of the century.

Michael Cookson


Great Recordings of the Century

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