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Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Nachtviolen
see end of review for track listing
Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Gerold Huber (piano)
rec. 20-24 July 2012, Studio 2, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich, Germany
SONY CLASSICAL 88883 712172 [76:53]

Titled Nachtviolen (Dame’s violet’s) this set of Schubert lieder comprises twenty-four songs to which Christian Gerhaher feels a personal connection. An additional attraction is that most of the lieder here are lesser known among his large output. The set spans thirteen years of Schubert’s life from an eighteen year old in 1815 to his death in 1828. The majority were published after Schubert’s death which rather confirms the composer’s neglect during his lifetime. Schubert uses texts by a variety of authors from Goethe to writers I am much less familiar with such as Collin and Wschehrd.
 
In Berlin I have seen Christian Gerhaher perform four times now in oratorios and cantatas but sadly not yet in a lieder recital, an area in which he excels and seems especially at home. All the superstar razzamatazz that surrounds German tenor Jonas Kaufman thankfully doesn’t follow Gerhaher around, although, as a baritone his singing is just as telling. I like to think of him as a connoisseur’s choice.
 
Gerhaher has such an engaging voice and conveys a certain very apt vulnerability tinged with melancholy. With his appealing burnished tone the range of colours he blends is striking and his ability to shape words and phrases beautifully is no less remarkable. Gerold Huber is a sensitive accompanist particularly suited to this Schubert repertoire. I relished every single one of this lieder collection, however, there are several that stay long in the memory. I was especially struck by the stark beauty brought to Abschied (Farewell), D475 concerned with the pain of parting and the torment of the restless soul in Der Wanderer (The Wanderer), D649. In the simple Spring song Nachtviolen (Dame’s violets), D752 Gerhaher intensely conveys a world-weary feeling. I loved the aching sadness with which he imbues Abendlied für die Entfernte (Evening Song for the Distant Lover), D856 with its relentless piano part.
 
Gerhaher and Huber have collaborated in Schubert lieder a number of times especially their 2005 Munich recording on RCA Red Seal. It is certainly a recording worthy of attention. The present excellent and carefully presented release includes a detailed booklet with a short description of each of the twenty-four songs and full German texts with English translations. Lovers of Schubert lieder will be in their element with this release a veritable master-class in musicality.
 
Michael Cookson

Track listing
1. An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht, D614 (1818) [8:01]
2. Hoffnung, D295 (1816) [1:26]
3. Im Janner 1817 (Tiefes Leid), D876 (c. 1826) [2:41]
4. Abschied, D475 (1816) [5:09]
5. Herbst, D945 (1828) [3:34]
6. Uber Wildemann, D884 (1826) [2:21]
7. Der Wanderer, D649 (1819) [2:23]
8. Der Wanderer an den Mond, D870 (1826) [2:26]
9. Der Zwerg, D771 (c. 1822/23) [4:54]
10. Abendstern, D806 (1824) [2:08]
11. Im Walde, D843 (1825) [5:09]
12. Nach einem Gewitter, D561 (1817) [1:33]
13. Der Schiffer, D694 (1820) [3:11]
14. An die Nachtigall, D196 (1815) [1:55]
15. Totengräber-Weise, D869 (1826) [5:12]
16. Fruhlingsglaube, D686 (1820) [3:16]
17. Nachtviolen, D752 (1822) [2:35]
18. Abendlied für die Entfernte, D856 (1825) [5:14]
19. Wehmut, D772 (c. 1822/23) [2:24]
20. Der Strom, D565 (1817) [1:31]
21. Der Hirt, D490 (1816) [2:17]
22. Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren, D360 (1822) [2:27]
23. Nachtgesang, D314 (1815) [1:40]
24. Der Sänger am Felsen, D482 (1816) [3:06]