There are many reasons for the lover of Schubert Lieder to buy this
disc: reasons historical, aesthetic and musicological.
First, it was recorded in the end-days of Hitler’s Germany, while
Michael Raucheisen, the excellent pianist here, doggedly pursued his
project of recording as many Lieder as he could with artists such
as Patzak and Anders who had survived the war and were still able
to get to Berlin. Germany was in ruins, as the cover picture of the
bombed Reichstag graphically depicts. The Russians were poised to
capture the city and brutally subdue its population through a policy
of mass rape. Hitler’s evil ambitions would end in a bunker only a
month or so after these recordings were completed. Yet here are two
superlative Schubertians making music as if to reassert the true place
and meaning of German culture before it was hi-jacked.
Secondly, in addition to Raucheisen’s sensitive accompaniment, we
have here an invaluable souvenir of the artistry of a great German
tenor who, like Fritz Wunderlich, would die all too young – not falling
down the stairs but in a road accident nine years later in 1954 when
he was only 46 years old.
Thirdly, we have the chance to hear “Winterreise” sung in its original
tenor version, mostly in the keys Schubert stipulated, rather than
the more usual transpositions to a bass-baritone.
Finally, the interpretation itself is artistically outstanding, Anders
deploying his virile tenor across a wide range of moods, tones, dynamics
and colours, expertly supported by his pianist. Even the sound is
more than acceptable, this having been recorded on the new technology
of tape. As such, it’s mostly free of shatter, with only some slight
distortion on louder, higher notes, a bit of sputter on sibilants
and some very faint pre-echo in songs such “Im Dorfe”.
Anders began his career with a lyric tenor which soon developed into
a more robust and heroic instrument. His singing here is at times
almost strident and often stentorian but he is equally capable of
a melting pianissimo mezza voce as in “Frühlingstraum”, where
he sings very softly without resorting to crooning. He pays grateful
attention to subtleties and nuances such as diminuendos and acciaccaturas,
with all the little grace notes and telling inflections in place.
His diction is crystalline and his willingness to sing out operatically
means that his big voice has the capacity to strike just the right
note of desperation this cycle demands. Tempi are swift and driven
in a manner that complements that sense of urgency, yet in songs such
as “Die Krähe” both singer and pianist hit just the right note of
dreamy detachment, as cold and isolation numb the poet’s sensibilities.
I urge those who want a modern digital version sung by the more traditional
baritone to go to the recent Florian Boesch accompanied by Malcolm
Martineau on the Onyx label. Otherwise, this large-scale reading is
an essential purchase for the devotee of Schubert Lieder.
Gute Nacht [5:38]
Die Wetterfahne [1:50]
Gefror'ne Tränen [3:03]
Der Lindenbaum [4:30]
Auf dem Flusse [4:03]
Die Post [2:37]
Der greise Kopf [2:57]
Die Krähe [2:06]
Letzte Hoffnung [2:34]
Im Dorfe [2:58]
Der stürmische Morgen [1:01]
Der Wegweiser [4:04]
Das Wirtshaus [4:10]
Die Nebensonnen [2:29]
Der Leiermann. [3:19]