Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Duette, Terzette, Quartette
Elly Ameling (soprano)
Janet Baker (mezzo)
Peter Schreier, Horst Laubenthal (tenors)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Gerald Moore (piano)
Rias Kammerchor
rec. 1973. ADD.
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94082 [65:02 + 57:41]

Two new Schubert releases from the upstart label Brilliant Classics: one extremely good and the other which didn’t appeal to me at all.

In the typically genial 2 CD collection of Schubert duets, trios and quartets are resurrected golden age stereo analogue recordings made in 1973. These come to 25 works, all piano accompanied. The artists are the elite of the day. The only name unfamiliar to me was the tenor Horst R Laubenthal. No corners are cut with the notes which have been freshly penned by Malcolm Macdonald. On the other hand there are no texts or translations. The 35 plus years old recordings are in good fettle allowing for the unassertive ‘shush’ of iron oxide stock. The track-listings make admirably clear which of the five singers features in each song.

These songs defied my ignorant expectations. They are by no means simple pastorals. They often have more in common with dramatic scenas. Several draw on Greek legend. Also in the mix is a curvaceous vocalise in the shape of the Sing-Ubungen. Janet Baker and DFD appear on the majority of tracks across the two CDs. Baker is in superb voice but in songs such as Nur wer die sehnsucht the strain tells on DFD's vocal chords. Peter Schreier appears on sixteen of the 25 tracks and Ameling on eleven. Both are in glorious voice.

Rhetorical elevation and even the occasional dash of humour are much in evidence. Then again Schubert the lyrical romancer cannot help but put in an appearance - for example in Gutigster Bester Weisester. This is the stuff of convivial Schubertiades but ones in which the full gamut of emotional expression is run. Rustic romance is certainly there so if you enjoy the Brahms folksongs and Liebeslieder Walzer then this is for you. These songs are, as often as not, pretty far from being miniatures and several are of ambitious duration. Four run for more than ten minutes. Perhaps you already have a predilection for Schubert lieder. If so you can safely invest in this excellent set.

Turning now to Brilliant’s second new entry in the Schubert CD catalogue. Christian Hilz and Eckhart Sellheim's Winterreise is a 2010 original. It is made special by the use of an 1827 fortepiano by Conrad Graf. Muscular depth of tone is there - very grown up and with more fire-power than you may associate with such instruments. Hilz spans the range across sleepy languor, lugubrious reflection, smoothly flowing immediacy, and a foreboding-heavy narrative sense. While tracks such as Frühlingstraum provide some momentary contrast this Winterreise, which is beautifully sung, leaves me feeling depressed rather than exalted. As a cycle it hardly sets out to be joyous but this reading needs more sunshine to warm the blood no matter how fleetingly. This is an irremediably glum Winterreise and stands in need of the oxygen of joy even if glimpsed from the pastures of the bereft.

Text are provided in German and using a sensible font but there are no translations. There’s a useful note by Graham Lack.

Rob Barnett


Duette, Terzette, Quartette
CD 1

1. Trios: Punschlied D277 ‘Vier Elemente’ 02:59
2. Trios: Kantate zum Geburtstag des Sängers Johann Michael Vogl D666 10:33
3. Trios: Gütigster, Bester, Weisester D441 02:48
4. Trios: Verschwunden sind die Schmerzen D88 01:04
5. Trios: Trinklied D148 01:17
6. Quartets: Der Tanz D826 05:01
7. Quartets: Des Tages Weihe D763/Op. post. 146 03:22
8. Quartets: Hymne an den Unendlichen D232 03:22
9. Quartets: An die Sonne D439 06:32
10. Quartets: Begräbnislied D168 03:21
11. Quartets: Gott im Ungewitter D985 05:23
12. Quartets: Gott der Weltschöpfer D986 02:26
13. Quartets: Die Geselligkeit D609 ‘Lebenslust’ 01:23
14. Quartets: Gebet D815 10:36
CD 2
1. Duets: Hermann und Thusnelda D322 05:38
2. Duets: Antigone und Oedip D542/Op.6 No.2 05:27
3. Duets: Cronnan D282 10:21
4. Duets: Sing-Übungen D619 04:01
5. Duets: Selma und Selmar D286 01:35
6. Duets: Licht und Liebe D352 05:08
7. Duets: Hektors Abschied D312 04:54
8. Duets: Nur wer die Sehnsucht kennt D877 No.1 03:58
9. Duets: Szene aus Goethes Faust D126 06:33
10. Trios: Der Hochzeitsbraten D930/Op.104 10:39
11. Trios: Die Advokaten D37/Op.74 06:44
Elly Ameling (soprano), Dame Janet Baker (mezzo), Peter Schreier, Horst Laubenthal (tenors), Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)
Rias Kammerchor
Recording made in 1973

Winterreise D.911
1. Winterreise, D. 911: Gute Nacht 05:11
2. Winterreise, D. 911: Die Wetterfahne 01:40
3. Winterreise, D. 911: Gefror'ne Tränen 02:15
4. Winterreise, D. 911: Erstarrung 03:10
5. Winterreise, D. 911: Der Lindenbaum 04:03
6. Winterreise, D. 911: Wasserflut 03:35
7. Winterreise, D. 911: Auf dem Flusse 03:16
8. Winterreise, D. 911: Rückblick 02:14
9. Winterreise, D. 911: Irrlicht 02:32
10. Winterreise, D. 911: Rast 02:55
11. Winterreise, D. 911: Frühlingstraum 03:42
12. Winterreise, D. 911: Einsamkeit 02:32
13. Winterreise, D. 911: Die Post 02:16
14. Winterreise, D. 911: Der greise Kopf 02:17
15. Winterreise, D. 911: Die Krähe 01:47
16. Winterreise, D. 911: Letzte Hoffnung 02:12
17. Winterreise, D. 911: Im Dorfe 02:37
18. Winterreise, D. 911: Der stürmische Morgen 00:52
19. Winterreise, D. 911: Täuschung 01:15
20. Winterreise, D. 911: Der Wegweiser 03:52
21. Winterreise, D. 911: Das Wirtshaus 03:32
22. Winterreise, D. 911: Mut 01:26
23. Winterreise, D. 911: Die Nebensonnen 02:11
24. Winterreise, D. 911: Der Leiermann 02:48
Christian Hilz; Eckart Sellheim

Two new Schubert releases from the upstart label Brilliant Classics: one extremely good and the other which didn’t appeal to me at all.