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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.