Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856)
Lieder Edition 6
Myrthen, Op. 25 [51:07]
1. Widmung [1:59]
2. Freisinn [1:16]
3. Der Nussbaum [3:00]
4. Jemand [1:48]
5. Lieder aus dem Schenkenbuch im Divan: No. 1. Sitz’ ich allein [1:19]
6. Lieder aus dem Schenkenbuch im Divan: No. 2. Setze mir nicht, du Grobian [0:59]
7. Die Lotusblume [1:46]
8. Talismane [2:12]
9. Lied der Suleika [3:08]
10. Die Hochländer-Witwe [1:25]
11. Lieder der Braut aus dem Liebesfrühling, No. 1 [2:17]
12. Lieder der Braut aus dem Liebesfrühling, No. 2 [1:09]
13. Hochländers Abschied [1:42]
14. Hochländisches Wiegenlied [3:13]
15. Mein Herz ist schwer [5:15]
16. Rätsel [1:53]
17. Venezianische Lieder 1: Leis’ rudern hier [2:08]
18. Venezianische Lieder 2: Wenn durch die Piazzetta [1:18]
19. Hauptmanns Weib [1:03]
20. Weit, weit [2:54]
21. Was will die einsame Träne? [2:09]
22. Niemand [1:05]
23. Im Westen [0:58]
24. Du bist wie eine Blume [1:40]
25. Ich sende einen Gruss wie Duft der Rosen [1:41]
26. Zum Schluss [1:51]
Sechs Gedichte und Requiem, Op. 90 [17:20]
27. Lied eines Schmiedes [1:39]
28. Meine Rose [2:44]
29. Kommen und Scheiden [1:14]
30. Die Sennin [1:53]
31. Einsamkeit [2:49]
32. Der schwere Abend [2:37]
33. Requiem [4:24]
Andrea Lauren Brown (soprano)(3, 7, 9-12, 14, 15, 19-21, 23, 26), Thomas E Bauer (baritone)(1, 2, 4-6, 8, 13, 16-18, 22, 24, 25, 27-33), Uta Hielscher (piano)
rec. Studio I, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich, Germany, 17-20 November 2008
Sung texts and translations can be found at
NAXOS 8.557079 [68:27]

I think it’s fair not to call Myrthen a song-cycle but rather a collection of songs very loosely connected. The real cycles have at least a nominal theme. They also have a specific poet as a common denominator. In Myrthen there are many proverbial cooks and the soup is thinner. The poets are no ciphers: Rückert, Goethe and Heine among them - but there is also a large number of translations from English. OK, Lord Byron and Burns aren’t ciphers either, but I feel there are too many loose ends. At the same time some of Schumann’s finest gems are hidden here: Widmung (tr. 1), Der Nussbaum (tr. 3), Die Lotusblume (tr. 7) and Du bist wie eine Blume (tr. 24) are all desert-island stuff and there is a lot more to enjoy. Schumann 1840 is in itself grade labelling and when sung by Thomas E Bauer one can just open one’s arms and savour the songs one by one or in groups if one prefers.

Bauer is one of today’s most accomplished Lieder singers with wide vocal as well as expressive range. One can choose any track with him and be sure that he will never go astray. Rätsel (tr. 16) is deeply satisfying, even more so the beautiful Venezianisches Lied No. 1 (tr. 17). Niemand (tr. 22), vital and rhythmically incisive, places him on a level with the foremost of the great baritones of the previous generation. This is confirmed by his caressing Du bist wie eine Blume (tr. 24) where he challenges even Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

He shares the Myrthen burden with Delaware-born soprano Andrea Lauren Brown, who made a good impression on the world premiere recording of Knecht’s Die Aeolsharfe a couple of years ago; Thomas Bauer also took part in that recording. Ms Brown has an agreeable and lyrical voice and her handling of the texts is splendid. Also listen to her beautiful legato singing in Mein Herz ist schwer (tr. 15). As yet she lacks the experience of Bauer but her contribution here is far more than promising.

There is also a filler, the Sechs Gedichte und Requiem, Op. 90, composed ten years after Myrthen. At that stage of his life he had lost some of his melodic gift but his writing is still expressive. The six poems are by Nikolaus Lenau, whose unstable mental state had similarities with Schumann’s own life. This group of songs was written as a tribute to the poet when Schumann heard of his supposed death; the actual death occurred three weeks later. The emotionally strongest song is however the concluding – and anonymous – Requiem, which has a power and a depth that surpasses most of what he had produced before. I learnt these songs through Gerard Souzay’s Philips recording from the early 1960s – one of the most satisfying early song LPs in my collection, coupled with a magical Dichterliebe. I had to get down the LP from the dusty shelf and took great pleasure in the re-acquaintance – but in the last analysis I found that Bauer was at least on a par with the French singer.

Any Schumann lover who wants a recording of Myrthen and the Op. 90 in the bargain can confidently invest in this super-budget issue.

Göran Forsling

Any Schumann lover who wants a recording of Myrthen and the Op. 90 in the bargain can confidently invest in this super-budget issue.