The main content of this disc of Schubert lieder, Schwanengesang,
is flanked by four other songs. Geheimnis is a warm
and Mozartean; it sets a text of Mayrhofer. Thought to have
been composed in the same year, An Schwager Kronos is
a fast-paced miniature with a rhythmically strong galloping
accompaniment which maintains the momentum throughout. By contrast, Widerschein is
slower and more picturesque, describing the reflection of the
Schwanengesang, a cycle of fourteen songs, was composed
at the end of Schubert’s life and contains some of his
most intoxicating vocal writing. The collection comes from
six songs setting texts by Heine, a further group of seven
by Rellstab and a further setting by Seidl. They were sent
to the publisher Tobias Haslinger after Schubert’s death.
The group were published together and given their collective
title probably for commercial reasons.
There are many highlights in this collection. The dark, atmospheric
opening of Kreigers Ahnung demonstrates Schubert’s
talent for harmony and melody combined. Frühlingssehnsücht has
a beautifully flowing quality, while the highly lyrical Ständchen is
performed here with wonderful colour and phrasing. In der
Ferne is another dark, minor key song, which is introspective
and heavy. By contrast, the upbeat and somewhat frivolous Abschied,
the last of the Heine settings, comes across as almost manically
hyperactive with its spiky piano accompaniment.
The simple melody of Ihr Bild is beautifully concentrated,
with unisons between voice and piano providing a sonorous tone
colour. Das Fischermädchen is a jaunty song evoking
the sea in its rocking piano lines. Three mysterious songs
follow: Die Stadt, Am Meer and Der Doppelgänger;
all possess a sense of stillness and sorrow and carry weighty
emotions. Die Taubenpost seems out of place, its lightness
of mood being so dramatically different to what it follows.
Seidl’s poem tells of the pigeon post, and Schubert’s
setting takes on a more sociable, everyday life feel, bringing
the listener out of the gloomy depths of some of the earlier
The disc ends with Schubert’s 1816 Abschied, which
is a haunting and very beautiful setting of a text by Mayrhofer.
Bostridge has clear diction throughout and gives an intimate
performance which feels personal and unforced. His reading
is unsentimental but nevertheless expressive with variations
of tone colour and stylish phrasing. The dynamic range is contained
and controlled, while Pappano is excellent, with a clear piano
sound which never dominates the voice but supports effectively.
see also review by Göran Forsling
Masterwork Index: all reviews of Schwanengesang