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Robert SCHUMANN (1810–1856)

Lieder und Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart
3 Duette
Christian Hilz (baritone)¹, Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo)², Katia Bouscarrut (piano)
rec. Reitsadel, Neumarkt/Oberpfalz, Germany, 6-8 February 2007
German texts and English translations enclosed
AVIE AV 2134 [63:16]

Experience Classicsonline


Lieder und Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister, Op. 98a (1849)
1. Mignon [3:15]²
2. Ballade des Harfners [5:08]¹
3. Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt [1:43]²
4. Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen aß [2:05]¹
5. Heiß mich nicht reden, heiß mich schweigen [2:48]²
6. Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt [2:54]¹
7. Singet nicht in Trauertönen [2:09]²
8. An die Türen will ich schleichen [2:05]¹
9. So lasst mich scheinen, bis ich werde [2:36]²
Liederkreis, Op. 30 (1840)¹
10. In der Fremde [1:47]
11. Intermezzo [1:40]
12. Waldesgespräch [1:54]
13. Die Stille [1:34]
14. Mondnacht [3:39]
15. Schöne Fremde [1:11]
16. Auf einer Burg [2:19]
17. In der Fremde [1:18]
18. Wehmut [2:22]
19. Zwielicht [2:43]
20. Im Walde [1:20]
21. Frühlingsnacht [1:19]
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135 (1852)²
22. Abschied von Frankreich [1:32]
23. Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes [1:18]
24. An die Königin Elisabeth [1:22]
25. Abschied von der Welt [2:36]
26. Gebet [2:03]
3 Duette¹²
27. Herbstlied, Op. 43 No. 2 (1840) [1:52]
28. So wahr die Sonne scheinet, Op. 37 No. 12 (1840) [1:46]
29. Ich bin dein Baum, o Gärtner, Op. 101 No. 3 (1849) [2:58]

Before 1840 Robert Schumann composed almost exclusively for piano but that year he wrote 168 songs. Scholars seem to agree that the source of his inspiration was his love for Clara Wieck, who became his wife on 12 September 1840. By no means all of the songs are in a happy mood. They are surely affected by doubt, apprehension and his strained relationship with his father-in-law. The inspiration and the melodic beauty of these songs have made them eternally popular, to such a degree that they have tended to overshadow the rest of his song output. Maybe he never again reached the level of his Liederjahr, but this doesn’t mean that the later songs are not worth hearing. On this disc we get one of the cornerstones in the song repertoire: Liederkreis, Op. 39 from 1840, settings of poems by Eichendorff (1788–1857). The other songs, however, belong in the category ‘popping up every now and then’ but not often enough to have achieved standard work status.

The singers sharing the space on this disc are well established but still relatively young. Baritone Christian Hilz entered his professional career in 1995 and has sung in baroque music as well as in contemporary works. He already has an impressive discography, including a disc with songs by Bruno Walter and Gustav Mahler. Norwegian mezzo-soprano Marianne Beate Kielland graduated in 2000 and then quickly rose to stardom in her native country as well as the rest of Europe. I had previously only heard her singing Bach, where she frequently applies a vibrato-less style of singing, making her sound very much like a countertenor. Here though she sings with a more ‘normal’ mezzo voice, big and intense but also able to lighten the tone in quick songs. After her fine singing in Mignon (tr. 1) the contrast with Christian Hilz is very apparent: his is a light, tenoral voice, finely nuanced but small-scale. When they sing together in the three duets that round off the disc it is Kielland’s voice that dominates.

Before I go into the songs in more detail I would like to vent my disappointment concerning the recorded sound. The venue seems rather large and there is so much reverberation that it tends to muddle some of the singing but most of all it affects the piano sound. The effect is that it seems that Katia Bouscarrut is constantly using the sustaining pedal. This robs the music of much of its intimacy. The ears slowly adjust to the sound-picture but all too often one that impression of haziness returns. This is a pity since there is great deal of very accomplished singing here and Ms Bouscarrut is no doubt an able pianist.

In the nine songs from Goethe’s Mignon they sing alternately which is a good idea since it creates variety. The two highlights here are undoubtedly Kielland’s light and bouncy Singet nicht in Trauertönen, exquisitely performed, and the final song So lasst mich scheiden. Hilz is at his best in the meditative and beautifully sung An die Türen will ich schleichen.

Schumann’s inspiration did not flow as effortlessly in all these songs as it did nine years earlier when he composed Liederkreis. Hilz has the whole cycle to himself and there is no doubt that he has worked himself deep into the songs. He delivers a youthful and eager Waldesgespräch and Mondnacht is restrained and sung with fine legato tone. This well-known song is probably his best effort here. Auf einer Burg is sung with great care, but this is also a word to apply to his whole reading; in the long run it becomes a bit bloodless. Schumann is intimate and quiet in many places but bloodless? No! Competition is formidable and I need only mention two: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (his DG recording with Eschenbach from 1977) and Peter Schreier (on Orfeo with Andras Schiff as recently as 2002). Disregarding such competition Hilz’s version is still well sung and well considered.

The tragic fate of Maria Stuart is well-known and these five songs to texts by Gisbert, Freiherr von Vincke (1813–1892) are based on the Queen’s own poems. It is an unhappy woman who speaks through them. This is movingly conveyed with such powerful and dramatic but at the same time sensitive effect by Kielland. These are the songs on this disc that I will return to most often.

I was also charmed by the three duets, the first two from the great song year 1840. Here we find a relaxed Schumann who wallows in the melodies he creates. The voices sound well together.

There is some very good singing here, some of it more careful than it needs to be. Kielland’s rendering of the Maria Stuart songs is really captivating. The drawback is the hazy sound.

Göran Forsling




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