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Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
1. Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren, D360 [3:16]
2. Nachtstück, D672 [5:52]
3. Auf der Donau, D553 [3:09]
4. Abendstern, D806 [2:25]
5. Auflösung, D807 [2:45]
6. Geheimes, D719 [1:54]
7. Versunken, D715 [2:00]
8. Schäfers Klagelied, D121 [3:38]
9. An die Entfernte, D765 [3:08]
10. Am Flusse D766 [1:36]
11. Willkommen und Abschied, D767 [3:27]
12. Die Götter Griechenlands, D677 [4:08]
13. An die Leier, D737 [4:50]
14. Am See, D746 [2:02]
15. Alinde D904 [3:58]
16. Wehmut D772 [2:58]
17. Über Wildemann D884 [2:03]
18. Auf der Riesenkoppe D611 [5:03]
19. Sei mir gegrüsst D741 [4:24]
20. Dass sie hier gewesen D775 [3:09]
21. Der Geistertanz D116 [1:35]
Ian Bostridge (tenor), Julius Drake (piano)
rec. November 2000, St. George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol
Texts and translations included
EMI CLASSICS 50999 5 03424 2 6 [77:27]


Ian Bostridge’s credentials as a Schubert interpreter are well documented on record. He first became known to a wider record buying public through Die schöne Müllerin in the acclaimed Complete Schubert Edition on Hyperion - still regarded as one of the best versions ever. He went on to record two volumes of Lieder with Julius Drake, of which this was volume two. He set down a number of further Schubert songs with Leif Ove Andsnes as ‘fillers’ to Schubert sonatas and also a Winterreise with Andsnes. In 2005 he re-recorded Die schöne Müllerin with Mitsuko Uchida. The same year saw a third volume with Julius Drake.

The present disc is included in a series of reissues headed Recommends, based on recommendations in the Gramophone Classical Music Guide and the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs & DVDs. This would be enough as a recommendation, but re-assessments are never out of place and, having not heard this particular disc before, I approached it as though it was new.

What first struck me was the ideal balance between singer and pianist. This is a tribute as much to Julius Drake as to balance engineer Jonathan Allen, since the next thing that struck me was how well he adjusted the piano tone to the fairly small, reedy but extremely beautiful voice of Ian Bostridge. Playing with a baritone with that darker timbre he would surely have applied a meatier sound. Through the course of the recital Drake shows, time and again, a total control of dynamics.

The programme is built by these two artists just as they might for a live recital: before the interval there is a group of five Mayrhofer songs followed by six settings of Goethe; after the interval they perform nine songs to texts by different poets. They round off the recital with an encore, Geistertanz (Ghost Dance), which seems at least remotely appropriate since Mr Bostridge received his doctorate on the significance of witchcraft.

This is not a recital with big gestures and thunderous fortissimos. On the contrary it is soft and restrained but with intensity within a limited dynamic scope. It is more a matter of letting the music speak without unnecessary pointing of words. A discreet swelling of tone on a keyword is often enough to stress its importance. They have also chosen songs that suit this concept – mostly, that is. Willkommen und Abschied would be better suited to a baritone and the stormy and dramatic Über Wildemann also needs a darker tone and more heft. On the other hand its companion piece in this recital, Auf der Riesenkoppe, also a depiction of the forces of nature in a mountainous landscape, is inward and reflective and perfectly suited to the tenor voice. The two concluding songs, Sei mir gegrüsst and Dass sie hier gewesen, both Rückert settings and both dealing with the pain of love, are sung with restrained passion.

No, Gramophone and Penguin were not wrong. This is a wholly recommendable recital. It comes with full texts and translation and a very good introduction to the songs by Richard Wigmore.

Göran Forsling




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