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alternatively Crotchet

Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Romantic Poets - Vol. 2
1. Auf der Riesenkoppe, D611 [4:06]
2. Sehnsucht der Liebe, D180 [5:00]
3. Sängers Morgenlied I, D163 [1:38]
4. Sängers Morgenlied II, D165 [3:52]
5. Liebeständelei, D206 [2:32]
6. Wiegenlied, D304 [2:59]
7. Das war ich, D174 [3:09]
8. Liebesrausch II, D179 [4:13]
9. Das gestörte Glück, D309 [3:26]
10. Zwei Szenen aus dem Schauspiel “Lacrimus”, Op. 124, D857, No. 2: Lied des Florio [3:12]
11. Hänflings Liebeswerbung, Op. 20, No. 3, D552 [1:56]
12. Hippolits Lied, D890 [2:38]
13. Sei mir gegrüsst, Op. 20, No. 1, D741 [4:29]
14. Das Heimweh, D456 [2:45]
15. Der blinde Knabe, Op. 101, No. 2, D833 [3:41]
16. Sprache der Liebe, Op. 115, No. 3, D410 [1:48]
17. Die gefangenen Sänger, D712 [5:07]
18. Wiedersehn, D855 [4:03]
19. Abendlied für die Entfernte, Op. 88, No. 1, D856 [7:53]
Markus Schäfer (tenor), Ulrich Eisenlohr (piano)
rec. Rosbaud-Studio, Baden-Baden, Germany, 20-24 February 2006
NAXOS 8.557831 [68:27]


Experience Classicsonline

The last thing I heard of Markus Schäfer was a recording of Bach’s St Matthew Passion on Naxos - reviewed a couple of years ago. I commented then on his expressiveness and this is also characteristic of his singing on the present disc. “Flexible and expressive” were the first words I jotted down. I also noted his plangent tone quality with something of Peter Pears in it. He works with fine nuances and his half voice is often ravishing. When he employs the full voice the tone sometimes becomes harder and he has some hallmarks, the most obvious one being his tendency to squeeze the tone and slide on the notes. It isn’t a portamento, since that implies sliding from one note to the next - Schäfer often slides on the note. This can be expressive for certain purposes, to create a humoristic or ironic effect, but it can also give the impression of faltering intonation. Sometimes it induces a feeling of seasickness. There is no doubt though that these are well considered readings and Schäfer isn’t afraid of sacrificing beauty of tone for expressiveness. In that respect he reminds me of Peter Schreier - one of the most important Lieder singers for forty years.

The series is scheduled to be completed during 2008. And as with most discs in this series the majority of the songs are relative rarities. Maybe the only one that can be counted as ‘standard repertoire’ is Sei mir gegrüsst (tr. 13), which is here given a worthy reading. But in almost any Schubert song there is something of interest, something that catches the ear. Lied des Florio (tr. 10) from a play by Christian Wilhelm von Schütz, is charming and I look forward to hearing the first of these two songs, which is promised for release on Romantic Poets, Vol. 3 (8.557832). The lively setting of Hänflings Liebeswerbung (tr. 11) with its virtuoso accompaniment is also nice.

There are no less than nine songs to texts by Theodor Körner, who is also the cover boy for this issue. This poet, dramatist and soldier died in 1813, aged 22, during the Napoleonic Wars. He met the young Schubert when he came to Vienna in 1811. Most of Schubert’s settings of Körner’s poetry are early works, written in 1815, with the exception of Auf der Riesenkoppe (tr. 1) from three years later, which is also the best known of these songs. I was quite captivated by Das gestörte Glück (tr. 9) in ¾ time, where Markus Schäfer’s excellent enunciation is a great asset.

Ulrich Eisenlohr is a splendid accompanist as he has been throughout this series. Texts and translations are available only on the internet. The recording quality is everything one could wish. Eisenlohr provides his own liner-notes; not as comprehensive as Graham Johnson’s for the corresponding Hyperion series but splendidly informative.

Readers who feel ambivalent concerning Schäfer’s style of singing should try to listen before buying. On the Naxos website it is possible to get a free subscription which allows you to listen to 25% of each track. That should be enough to make a decision.

Göran Forsling 


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