Franz SCHUBERT (1797 - 1828)
Bei dir allein! (Schubert Songs)
1. Bei dir allein! D 866/2 [2:10]
2. Lied der Delphine D 857/1 [4:17]
3. Lied des Florio D 857/2 [4:17]
4. Suleika I D 720 [5:42]
5. Suleika II D 717 [4:17]
6. An Silvia D 891 [2:47]
7. Der Zwerg D 771 [5:28]
8. Geheimes D 719 [1:56]
9. Heimliches Lieben D 922 [4:18]
10. Gretchen am Spinnrade D 118 [3:45]
11. Frühlingsglaube D 686 [3:13]
12. Im Frühling D 882 [4:10]
13. Der Sänger am Felsen D 482 [3:20]
14. Totengräbers Heimweh D 842 [6:27]
15. Am Tage aller Seelen (Litanei) D 343 [4:10]
Camilla Tilling (soprano), Paul Rivinius (piano)
rec. September 2010, Potton Hall, Suffolk, England
Texts with English translations enclosed
BIS BIS-SACD-1844 [61:40]

It’s more than fifteen years since I first heard the young Camilla Tilling. She was engaged as soloist with our local symphony orchestra, of which I had then recently become president. I was captivated by her light, bell-like soprano, her technical command and, not least, her expressivity. There was soul and depth behind her effortlessly produced tones. Learning that she also had a song repertoire I immediately engaged her for a song recital in our chamber music society. This was another success and more than one of the visitors predicted a great career. And so it was. Before long she was gone, the international stages stood in line for her, Metropolitan, Covent Garden, later La Scala. In Sweden she sang at the Gothenburg Opera, where she once made her debut, and I caught her as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s ninth in Stockholm. Period!
Three years ago BIS issued a solo disc with Camilla Tilling in Strauss songs. I ended my review ‘More, please, BIS!’ Now I have had my request granted. And let me get straight to the point: This is a damn good disc! The Strauss CD was very good; here it seems that she has gained even more colours and nuances while retaining that original youthful timbre and ravishing beauty of tone. Now in mid-career she has reached that ideal equilibrium between singing per se and interpreting, or the equal balance of words and music. There is in Tilling’s singing the same unaffected simplicity and naturalness of Elly Ameling, who was to my mind the greatest soprano in the Lieder Fach in the wake of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. While Schwarzkopf was artfulness personified, Ameling was her opposite pole - but with the same deep insights. Tilling is a singer whose voice can’t be mistaken for either Schwarzkopf or Ameling but in approach she belongs to the Ameling school. Just listen to Suleika II (tr. 5). It is so sensitive, so beautiful and her diminuendo on the last note is lovely - and feels quite natural. She doesn’t over-do the effect.
As on her Strauss disc she mixes the well known with the not so well known. The first five songs must be counted as belonging to the latter category while An Silvia (tr. 6) has been sung and recorded by countless singers. Any new singer who essays that lovely song is up against all the great names of the past. I haven’t listened to the two dozen or so recordings on my shelves just for this review but as soon as I heard the very first phrases of Tilling’s reading it felt right. The song unfolded so naturally - I know I have used the word before - and there wasn’t a hint of calculation. There is enormous care, preparation and testing to reach this result, but it sounds spontaneous. Art concealing art. Der Zwerg (tr. 7) reveals her dramatic capacity and that she has more power than one can expect. She is now at an age when it is not uncommon that a former Susanna and Sophie takes on the Countess and the Feldmarschallin instead.
There is lovely singing throughout and I will just single out a couple of songs that felt special. Heimliches Lieben (tr. 9), a relative rarity, became a new favourite after hearing this delightful reading. I couldn’t resist playing it twice again before I continued listening. Frühlingsglaube (tr. 11) is sung so softly and inwardly, almost hesitatingly - and to great effect. The two final songs are heard in masterly interpretations. Totengräber’s Heimweh (tr. 14) was for me long synonymous with Fischer-Dieskau; in particular his 1970 recording with Gerald Moore (DG). It seems designed for a baritone voice but remarkably Tilling darkens her voice and reaches the same depth as F-D. The final stanza is immensely moving. So is Litanei (tr. 15), sung with skinless vulnerability.
Paul Rivinius, as on the previous disc, is an ideal partner. The recording balance is what one expects to hear in a good chamber music hall. Horst A. Scholz manages to squeeze in lots of illuminating information in the relatively limited space offered by the booklet. One further detail: BIS cleverly leaves generous silences between each song, enabling the listener time to digest the first song and prepare for the next.
A superb Schubert recital in every respect. More, please, BIS!
Göran Forsling
A superb Schubert recital in every respect.