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Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)
Liederkreis, Op. 39 (Eichendorff) [23:45]
Drei Gedichte, Op. 30 (Geibel) [8:13]
Sechs Gedichte aus dem Liederbuch eines Malers, Op. 36 (Reinick) [15:58]
Thomas E. Bauer (baritone), Uta Hielscher (piano)
rec. SWR Kammermusikstudio, Stuttgart, Germany, 29 November-December 2011
Sung texts and translations available on-line
NAXOS 8.557080 [56:07]

Thomas E. Bauer has been involved in several of the earlier issues in the Naxos Schumann Lieder Edition and has never disappointed. I have followed his development for about seven years and now he has reached the point where his insights into the texts and the expressivity of his vocal means are at a perfect equilibrium. Add to this that he is partnered by a pianist who understands his intentions and follows him like a shadow. I have admired Uta Hielscher on previous issues in this series and the present disc only confirms this. Listening to the very first song in Liederkreis one at once reacts to the poetry of the accompaniment and Bauer’s voice which shivers with emotions, finely nuanced. There is a youthful glow in Intermezzo and in Waldesgespräch the powerful dark timbre at the opening is imposing. Die Stille is light and intimate and the wonderful Mondnacht inward - one of the most beautiful readings I’ve heard. Schöne Fremde displays both Bauer’s effortless height and his black bottom-notes. Wehmut is another winner and the three concluding songs can be compared favourably against all the great interpreters of the past.
If the Liederkreis songs are well-trodden paths the three poems Op. 30 are seldom brought before the public. That is a pity. The vital Der Knabe mit dem Wunderhorn finds Schumann in uncommonly exuberant mood. The other two are more ordinary but in Bauer’s interpretations they are well worth a listen.
Die Löwenbraut to a text by Adelbert von Chamisso (of Frauenliebe und -leben fame) is a long ballad, rather restrained to begin with but growing in intensity. Here Bauer’s rich array of vocal colours is again a great asset.
The six poems by Robert Reinick are also relatively rare guests on the concert platform and in the studio. It is good that Thomas E. Bauer has taken them under his wing; they are in the best of hands - to mix my metaphors. Less inspired perhaps than the Eichendorff and Heine settings they are well worth anyone’s acquaintance and it was especially agreeable to encounter again An den Sonnenschein, which I learnt through a recording by Ernst Haefliger.
Readers who buy this disc for the sake of Liederkreis will get a number of, possibly unexpected, gems in the bargain; not least the glowing singing of Bauer in the concluding Liebesbotschaft.
Good, well balanced recording, excellent liner notes by Keith Anderson, and texts and translations available on-line. A disc to treasure.
Göran Forsling 

Track listing
Liederkreis, Op. 39 (Eichendorff) [23:45]
1. In der Fremde [2:16]
2. Intermezzo [1:24]
3. Waldesgespräch [2:02]
4. Die Stille [1:23]
5. Mondnacht [3:38]
6. Schöne Fremde [1:14]
7. Auf einer Burg [2:31]
8. In der Fremde [1:22]
9. Wehmut [2:19]
10. Zwielicht [2:52]
11. Im Walde [1:22]
12. Frühlingsnacht [1:24]
Drei Gedichte, Op. 30 (Geibel) [8:13]
13. Der Knabe mit dem Wunderhorn [2:21]
14. Der Page [2:55]
15. Der Hidalgo [2:58]
16. Drei Gesänge, Op. 31, No. 1: Die Löwenbraut (Chamisso) [8:11]
Sechs Gedichte aus dem Liederbuch eines Malers, Op. 36 (Reinick) [15:58]
17. Sonntags am Rhein [2:32]
18. Ständchen [1:55]
19. Nichts Schöneres [2:01]
20. An den Sonnenschein [1:37]
21. Dichters Genesung [2:50]
22. Liebesbotschaft [5:03]