One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
1. Geheimnis An Franz Schubert D491 (1816) [2:00]
2. An Schwager Kronos D369 (?1816) [2:27]
3. Widerschein D949 (1819-20) [3:29]
Schwanengesang D957 (1827-28) (4. Liebesbotschaft [2:46]; 5. Kriegers Ahnung [4:47]; 6. Frühlingssehnsucht [2:57]; 7. Ständchen [3:59]; 8. Aufenthalt [2:31]; 9. In der Ferne [5:55]; 10. Abschied [3:42]; 11. Der Atlas [2:08]; 12. Ihr Bild [2:42]; 13. Das Fischermädchen [1:47]; 14. Die Stadt [2:26]; 15. Am Meer [4:14]; 16. Der Doppelgänger [3:49]; 17. Die Taubenpost [3:33]
18. Abschied D475 (1816) [5:13]
Ian Bostridge (tenor); Antonio Pappano (piano)
rec. 15-17 August 2008, No. 1 Studio, Abbey Road, London
Sung texts with English and French translations enclosed
EMI CLASSICS 2426392 [60:51]


Experience Classicsonline

Ian Bostridge’s Lieder singing has divided opinions. I have myself only recently delved deeper into his art and remain in two minds – to a certain extent. There can be no mistake though that here is a serious intellectual who never skims the surface. He sings off the words and has a myriad subtle nuances in his aural palette. Neither is he afraid of trying new approaches to oft-heard songs. His voice is light, lyrical and rather reedy. At times it sounds almost androgynous – if there is such a thing as an androgynous sound. It is nonetheless a beautiful sound from pianissimo up to mezza-forte. Above mezza-forte it is good - and he never presses the voice beyond its natural limits - but it tends to sound undernourished. And herein lies a problem: the really dramatic pages of the song literature can sometimes elude him – at least when compared to the darker voices we are used to hearing in Schwanengesang. I have recently reviewed recordings by Siegfried Lorenz and Olaf Bär. I have long admired Hermann Prey and his early 1960s recording was the one through which I learnt these songs. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is in the same league. His DG recording with Gerald Moore (circa 1970) was my reference recording for this review. Compared to these and other tenors, notably Peter Schreier, Bostridge stands out as weaker and more – small-scale.

Let me say at once that small-scale is in no way deprecatory, it is just descriptive. Just as the maximum volume of a string quartet compared to a full string orchestra is a number of decibels lower so is Bostridge’s dynamic scope more compressed. Within this scope he is just as expressive as his stronger-voiced competitors. Moreover, intensity of expression is not just a question of volume. A pianissimo can be almost unbearably intense, sung with the right expression.

Compared to Fischer-Dieskau Bostridge is generally on the fast side, though not consistently so. In the first two songs he is marginally slower and also in songs No. 4-6, but the later songs are swifter and Der Doppelgänger considerably so. These slight differences in tempo paired with his lighter voice renders an airiness to the songs that is quite beguiling. Frühlingssehnsucht is eager and expectant and his lightness doesn’t exclude a rather powerful end to the song. Ständchen is beautiful and intimate, sung with a sensual caressing vibrato and a certain sweetness of tone, that shouldn’t be mistaken for crooning. In der Ferne has an almost transcendental atmosphere; no big gestures. Abschied is soft and restrained, inward and winding down more and more while nervously running. Der Atlas  is intense, almost panic-stricken, but this is a song that needs a stronger voice to make full impact. Ihr Bild is so extremely inward that it feels otherworldly – a strange feeling. Das Fischermädchen is light, almost weightless. Die Stadt begins almost inaudibly but the climax is intense enough but lacks the dark weight of Fischer-Dieskau – or any number of baritones. Am Meer is uncomplicatedly beautiful – as it should be: a most loveable song. Der Doppelgänger builds from nowhere; even the passages marked fff are comparatively soft, though the sheer intensity of Bostridge’s tone is heart-rending and he observes the accelerando marking at ‘Du Doppelgänger, du bleicher Geselle’ more eagerly than Fischer-Dieskau. The concluding Die Taubenpost flutters airily.

Before the ‘cycle’ he sings three independent songs of which Geheimnis is a superb example of his small print approach. An Schwager Kronos is a typical bold-type song and ideally requires a darker, more physical voice. Bostridge shows that expressive enunciation also pays dividends. Widerschein gets a rather self-indulgent reading with frequent tempo changes and in some places almost parodic tone – but it is fascinating even so.

The encore, Abschied D475, is extremely inward, as though he has already started to leave. Antonio Pappano plays exquisitely throughout and cleverly and sensitively adjusts the dynamics to the singer. What is marked fff becomes ff and at the other end of the dynamic scale ppp is played pppp. Small print indeed!

As I have pointed out in earlier reviews Ian Bostridge is a very special Lieder singer. Whatever he does is thoroughly analyzed and thought through. One can react to certain approaches that are not what one is used to but then, more often than not, he is quite refreshing. He has his own integrity and he is definitely never dull. Personally I still prefer Fischer-Dieskau – and he is never dull either – but every lover of these songs should lend an ear to Ian Bostridge. Certainly I will have this disc easily available for further listening. The recording is up to EMI’s generally high standards.

Göran Forsling




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.