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


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



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Schwanengesang, D.957 [50:04]
Herbst, D.945 [3:47]
Der Winterabend, D.938 [8:15]
Christopher Maltman (baritone); Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. live, 20 April 2010, Wigmore Hall, London. DDD
German texts and English translations included

Experience Classicsonline

The Wigmore Hall Live label has already issued CDs of outstanding performances by Christopher Maltman and Graham Johnson of Die schöne Müllerin (review) and Winterreise (review). I was impressed by both recordings and so I was delighted when a copy of the third and final release in this mini-series arrived for review.
The more I hear Schubert’s three song cycles - and I hope readers will excuse me if, for ease of reference, I refer thus to Schwanengesang; I know it’s not a true song cycle - the more I prefer them when sung by a tenor in the original high keys. Somehow this seems appropriate to the poems, to the music and to the fact that all the songs were the creations of a young man. That said, my ears are far from closed to lower voices in these songs and especially not when the singer in question is as persuasive a singer as Christopher Maltman.
The opening song, ‘Liebesbotschaft’, illustrates a number of what, by the end of the performance, will be seen to be important characteristics. Maltman’s tone is firm and well- focused; there’s evident care for the words. A definite partnership and shared understanding between himself and Graham Johnson is readily apparent. The tempo, while far from sluggish, is relaxed - here Maltman and Johnson refuse to be hurried and we shall find this tendency in several other songs as the performance unfolds.
I like the imaginative way that Maltman deploys vocal colouring, often lightening his tone for expressive ends. This is noticeable in ‘Kriegers Ahnung’, for instance. Appropriately, after ‘Liebesbotschaft’, he switches to a darker timbre for the first stanza of this second song, then the tone is lighter, the mood more wistful in the next verse before darker hues return.
The performance of the famous ‘Ständchen’ is steady and sounds somewhat autumnal while the reading of ‘Aufenthalt’ is, as Hilary Finch comments in the booklet, “darkly introspective”. Maltman takes this song at a steadier pace than I’ve heard in some performances. Furthermore, he contains the emotions - very effectively. The reading is not as overtly dramatic as one sometimes hears but at the end of the fourth stanza there’s the requisite vocal and emotional power. I’ve heard some singers make ‘Abschied’ sound relatively carefree but Maltman isn’t one of them. I particularly liked his gentle, rather wistful way with the fourth and sixth stanzas.

On to the deeper Heine settings, starting with ‘Der Atlas’. This is powerfully done but not in an excessive way: Maltman displays defiance in an impressive account of the song. In the following song, ’Ihr Bild’ the mood he strikes is one of withdrawn regret. His well- controlled singing makes the passion with which he invests the last line all the more effective.
‘Am Meer’ is given a magnetic performance. Here, the way Maltman uses the upper register of his voice is very impressive, especially in the first and third stanzas. Equally impressive is his control of the line. The four quiet piano chords that introduce ‘Der Doppelgänger’ are full of foreboding. Both performers invest the first stanza with a sense of oppressive stillness. They make the following verse terrifically tense without any unnecessary histrionics and then, as the song reaches its dénouement there’s just the right level of intensity. ‘Die Taubenpost’ is given a reading that, on the surface, is relaxed and lyrical. It’s a subtle performance and it’s tinged with that sense of ‘sehnsucht’ which finally comes out in the final stanza, especially the second time round.
There are two encores. First Maltman and Johnson offer another Rellstab setting, ‘Herbst’. Hilary Finch comments that this song is often sung as an encore to Schwanengesang; indeed, I recall that Peter Schreier and András Schiff actually inserted the song into the Rellstab group on their CD of Schwanengesang. It’s done with fine expression by Christopher Maltman. The second extra item is quite substantial for an encore; the performance of ‘Die Winterabend’ takes over seven minutes. This is a song from 1827 to which Graham Johnson provides an excellent spoken introduction, stressing the idea of ‘sehnsucht’ that links back to Schwanengesang. It’s a gentle, wistful song and the performance is lovely: Maltman once again sings with fine, even tone and shows his ability to spin a long vocal line while Graham Johnson’s accompaniment seems absolutely right in every respect.
The first two volumes in this Schubert mini-series were extremely satisfying and the final instalment is no less rewarding. On these three CDs Christopher Maltman confirms that he is one of the most impressive baritone exponents of art songs currently before the public and, of course, he is partnered by one of the finest accompanists of our day, one who is steeped in Schubert’s lieder. Though there are many excellent CD versions of Schwanengesang in the catalogue this one joins the ranks of the very best.
The concert at which this recording was made was reviewed for MusicWeb International Seen and Heard by Mark Berry.
John Quinn
Masterwork Index: Schwanengesang















































































































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

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.