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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Liederalbum fur die Jugend Op. 79 (1849) [49:15]
No. 1 Der Abendstern (Evening Star) [2:18]
No. 2 Schmetterling (Butterfly) [0:51]
No. 3 Frühlingsbotschaft (Spring Message) [0:57]
No. 4 Frühlingsgruss (Spring Greeting) [1:45]
No. 5 Von Schlaraffenland (From the Land of Cockaigne) [1:52]
No. 6 Sonntag (Sunday) [1:50]
No. 7 Zigeunerliedchen I (Gypsy Song I) [0:58]
No. 8 Zigeunerliedchen II (Gypsy Song II) [1:35]
No. 9 Das Knaben Berglied (The Boy’s Mountain Song) [1:58]
No. 10 Mailied (May Song) [1:07]
No. 11 Käuzlein (Owlet) [2:13]
No. 12 Hinaus ins Freie (Out in the Open) [1:18]
No. 13 Der Sandmann [2:08]
No. 14 Marienwürmchen (Ladybird) [1:35]
No. 15 Die Waise (The Orphan) [2:10]
No. 16 Das Glück (Happiness) [0:52]
No. 17 Weihnachtlied (Christmas Song) [1:48]
No. 18 Die Wandelnde Glock (The Moving Bell) [2:04]
No. 19 Frühlingslied (Spring Song) [2:45]
No. 20 Frühlings Ankunft (Spring’s Arrival) [1:33]
No. 21 Die Schwalben (Swallows) 1:06]
No. 22 Kinderwacht (Watching over Children) [1:14]
No. 23 Der Sennen Adschied (Herdsman’s Farewell) [2:04]
No. 24 Er ist’s (It is He) [1:20]
No. 25 Spinnelied (Spinning Song) [1:47]
No. 26 Das Buben Schützenlied (The Lad’s Shooting Song) [1:00]
No. 27 Schneeglöckchen (Snowdrops) [1:25]
No. 28 Lied Lynceus der Türmers (Song of Lynceus the Watchman) [2:07]
No. 29 Mignon [3:34]
Lieder und Gesange I Op. 27 (1839-40) [8:49]
No. 1 Sag an, O lieber Vogel mein (Tell me. O my little bird) [1:40]
No. 2 Dem roten Röslein gleicht mein lieb (My love is like a red, red Rose) [1:16]
No. 3 Was soll ich sagen? (What shall I say?) [2:53]
No. 4 Jasminenstrauch (The Jasmine Bush) [0:43]
No. 5 Nur ein lächender Blick (Only a Smiling Glance) [2:13]
Sibylla Rubens (soprano); Stefanie Iranyi (mezzo); Thomas E. Bauer (baritone);
Uta Hielscher (piano)
rec. 26-28 January 2006, Bayerische Rundfunk Studio 1, Munich. DDD
NAXOS 8.557076 [58:04] 

 


This is the third volume in the Naxos Schumann Lieder Series. This will eventually run to twelve volumes. As in the second volume (Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op. 24) the baritone Thomas E. Bauer is prominent, singing on more than half the tracks, including duet sections. His counterpart and occasional partner on this disc is the German soprano Sibylla Rubens, who is new to the series. While Mr. Bauer is an uneven talent, Ms. Rubens is consistently fine and can excel in a variety of song types.

The Naxos Volume 3 contains two of the lesser-known Schumann song-cycles. The Liederablum fur die Jugend is somewhat more than a cycle in that several of the songs have parts for a second singer and one (Weihnachtlied) can utilize a chorus at the end of each stanza. It serves as a graduated series of singing exercises at the same time as providing songs for children to actually sing in addition to genuine art songs. If this were not enough, it was written in 1849 when Schumann had fled Dresden because of the May Rising against the King of Saxony. While Schumann did not actively support the Rising the way Wagner did, his feelings are expressed in the choice of texts for some of his songs. The largest number are by Hoffman von Fallersleben, a revolutionary writer. There are also texts by Uhland and two from William Tell. Musically one can sense an undercurrent of unease and even violence in some of the songs. However more than anything else they remain a charming grouping of songs and lieder. 

As said above, Ms Rubens can apply her high, bright soprano to a variety of the moods demonstrated in these songs. Her first song Schmetterling is sung with great gusto and excellent enunciation. Two songs later, in Frühlingsgruss, she combines a child’s joy at the coming of spring with a sense of fantasy that serves Schumann well. Mailied (no. 10) is a duet with mezzo-soprano Stefanie Iranyi. Their voices blend very well and they perform together charmingly. Ms. Rubens sings the 13th through 16th songs as a sort of group. The first two, Der Sandmann and Marienwürmchen are sung simply and expressively, although Ms. Rubens falters for a moment in the latter song. In the Die Waise we come to more serious territory and the soprano makes the change so subtly as to make the transition unnoticeable. The last of the four songs Das Glück is another duet with Ms. Iranyi. Again the two singers perform beautifully together with Ms. Iranyi matching Ms. Rubens in the more serious tone underneath the words of the song. The duet Die Schwalben must be mentioned for both singers’ perfect capturing of Schumann’s tone painting ability. Finally, Mignon, which has been sung so many times, receives a rather psychological reading as the young girl peers into her future. 

About Thomas Bauer I cannot be quite so enthusiastic. With the gypsy songs he shows an ease and lightness of rhythm that is missed in some of the other songs that he essays here. An example of this is the first song Abendstern which should be a whimsical introduction to the cycle but which he makes far too serious. On the other hand he does well with many of the songs that should be sung seriously, such as Lied des Lynceus der Turmer which does quite well. He also mixes well with the female performers in the joint efforts such as Weihnachtslied and Fruhlingslied. In the Lieder und Gesange he produces a more controlled performance. 

Special mention should be made of the third soloist on this recording, Stefanie Iranyi, who participates in a half-dozen of the songs. She blends effortlessly with Ms. Rubens. Although something of a Bach specialist she shows a fine understanding of the Schumann milieu. Equal praise should be given to the pianist Uta Hielscher who has been the pianist on all three of the discs in this series. Not only does she show a lightness of touch that benefits a wide variety of material, but she proves herself equal to Ms. Iranyi in evoking the world of Schumann. I hope that she will continue with the series. The sound in Bavarian Radio’s Studio No.1 is not as warm as one would wish for this music, but it is surprisingly clear. Finally, praise must be given to Dr.Gerhard Dietel for some exceptional program notes. 

The main competition for this recording of Op. 79 is naturally Vol. 9 of the Hyperion Schumann Songs Series (CDA33109) with Dame Felicity Lott and Ann Murray. Their recording brings decades of experience and versatility to these songs, which the soloists on the Naxos disc have yet to acquire. On the other hand, the Naxos has the virtue of new, young voices excited about their repertoire. It also has the advantage of containing the songs in sequential order while the Hyperion disc has them interspersed with excerpts from Schumann’s Op. 68. As far as the Lieder und Gesange are concerned there is also stiff competition from Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau on DG 474466, a collection of his Schumann reissues. Again the difference is between experienced singers and enthusiastic youth. 

William Kreindler

see also Review by Göran Forsling

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