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Heinrich Schlusnus (baritone)
Franz Rupp (piano) (trs. 1, 5, 10, 11, 14-17, 21)
Sebastian Peschko (piano) (trs. 2-4, 6-9, 12, 13, 18-20, 22)
rec. 1927 – 1943. ADD
NIMBUS PRIMA VOCE NI7883 [77:20]
1. Erlkönig, D. 328 (Goethe) [4.10]
2. Wanderers Nachtlied I, D. 224 (Goethe) [1.37]
3. Wanderers Nachtlied II, D. 768 (Goethe) [2.06]
4. Im Frühling, D. 882 (Schulze) [4.22]
5. Der Neugierige, D. 795, No. 6 (Müller) [3.18]
6. Der Lindenbaum, D. 911, No. 5 (Müller) [3.47]
7. Frühlingstraum, D. 911, No. 11 (Müller) [4.23]
8. Liebesbotschaft, D. 957, No. 1 (Rellstab) [3.06]
9. Kriegers Ahnung, D. 957, No. 2 (Rellstab) [4.32]
10. Stàndchen, D. 957, No. 4 (Rellstab) [3.34]
11. Der Doppelgànger, D. 957, No.13 (Heine) [3.19]
12. Die Taubenpost, D. 957, No. 14 (Seidl) [4.10]
13. Lied des Harfners II, D. 480, (3) (Goethe) [4.23]
14. An die Leier, D. 737 (Bruchmann, after Anacreon) [4.07]
15. Der Jüngling an der Quelle, D. 300 (Salis-Seewis) [2.12]
16. Am See, D. 746 (Bruchmann) [2.15]
17. Der Wanderer, D. 489 (Schmidt) [4.14]
18. Nachtstück, D. 672 (Mayrhofer) [4.32]
19. Der Blumenbrief, D. 622 (Schreiber) [3.04]
20. Die Forelle, D. 550 (Schubart) [2.38]
21. An die Musik, D. 547 (Schober) [2.51]
22. Alinde, D. 904 (Rochlitz) [4.40]
Heinrich Schlusnus (1888-1952) enjoyed an exceptionally long career in which there was no discernible deterioration in his neat, slim voice with its light, fast vibrato, ringing top and lean purity of line. Equally at home in a wide variety of styles, he was particularly devoted to the art of the German Lied despite a parallel, thirty year operatic career as the leading German Verdi baritone of his generation. His perfect diction, command of the messa di voce and sensitive phrasing made him ideally suited to the demands of Lieder; the collection here amply illustrates his gifts as a Schubert interpreter. The intelligence and intensity of his artistry are reflected in the gaze seen in the photograph adorning the booklet cover in this Prima Voce issue.
Schlusnus always insisted upon excellent accompanists; the subtlety of both pianists here anticipates the more modern demand that the two participants in a Lieder performance be equal partners. That said, Franz Rupp’s touch is especially impressive. Whatever he is singing, Schlusnus maintains a patrician nobility of tone which for some slightly militates against his ability to characterise - but I am with voice doyen J.B Steane in his advocacy of a voice which might just be one of the most beautiful baritones ever recorded. It is true that occasionally such homogeneity of vocal emission renders inert the little inflections which lend individuality; it is a voice virtually entirely without tics or flaws yet still quite recognisable in its colouring. The delicacy and restraint of his singing often make him an ideal interpreter of songs such as Der Neurige, one habitually sung by a tenor. Despite having considerable reserves of power and a ringing top, Schlusnus is never heard pushing or over-singing; the solidity of his technique allowed him to sing in a wide variety of styles right up to his death aged 63. It is perhaps this apparent effortlessness in his singing which for some hints at blandness but I would counteract any such suggestion by asking the doubter to listen carefully to his version of Ständchen – a model of Lieder singing. It features exquisitely steady, poised soft notes yet also considerable intensity in forte passages.
There are one or two caveats: Schlusnus’s comparatively weak low notes have always been remarked upon as his Achilles’ heel. Also the tempo of a few songs sits strangely in a modern ear: Der Lindenbaum is too fast, while the rhythm and speed of both Liebesbotschaft and Die Taubenpost are decidedly soggy. On the whole though, this choice compilation of some of Schubert’s best-loved songs constitutes a master-class in the Lieder-singer’s art.