note: We have just been informed
by Naxos that an incorrect master
was used to prepare this recording
which has now been withdrawn pending
Late last century Hyperion
released a 36 CD set of the complete
Schubert lieder repertoire under the
guidance of pianist Graham Johnson.
Naxos are trying to emulate this prodigious
work, but with a different approach.
Whereas Hyperion graded their songs
by their themes, with singers chosen
to suit each group of songs, Naxos have
grouped their selections according to
the poets that provided the lyrics.
This album looks at the works of poet,
pastor and theologian Ludwig Theobul
Kosegarten who lived between 1758 and
1818. What links the poets in this Naxos
project is that they wrote in a popular
folk-style known as the German Empfindsamkeit
or Poetry of Sensibility. Their subjects
include grief, death, resurrection as
well as love, friendship and humour
and together with Goethe and Schiller,
they provided Schubert with inspiration
while serving his ‘apprenticeship’ as
a musical setter of poems.
Eventually Naxos will record all of
Schubert’s song settings with the completed
edition not scheduled to be finished
before 2008. There are over 700 settings
(21 on this disc alone) and 115 separate
poets, some from classical Greece, the
Middle Ages, and of course, some of
his contemporaries including Heinrich
Heine whom he never met. For collectors
and lovers of Schubert’s lieder this
is an invaluable work and at
a budget price.
However, having said that I am disappointed
at the quality of some of the soloists.
I have already reviewed one other volume
in this series (Number 4) and in that
album the soprano was not up to scratch
singing lieder. The same is the case
in this compilation, although it is
a different singer. I presume Ulrich
Eisenlohr as artistic leader for this
project is responsible for the choices
and, much as I applaud the suitability
of most of his selections, he appears
to fall short sometimes.
Soprano Lydia Teuscher’s top notes on
the whole are too strident. When she
does modify them and floats them so
they’re allowed to reach their own level
without pushing (as in Abends unter
der Linde, track 13) they are beautiful.
Lieder singing was originally meant
to be performed to a gathering of music-lovers
in an intimate setting, usually in the
drawing room of a private house. Outbursts
of volume are unnecessary. The exceptions
are songs like Schubert’s Erlkönig
where the storyline demands a range
Tenor Marcus Ullman also tends to stray.
His enunciation in the earlier songs
is over the top to the point that it
detracts from the beauty of the song
itself. He is admirable, however, singing
the more legato songs. This is very
much the case in Der Abend (track
7). His interpretations generally are
the stuff of good lieder singing; as
are baritone Thomas Bauer’s who, alas,
is only allowed three songs.
Naxos Schubert Lieder Edition page