Born in Seoul in South Korea, Siwoung Song studied in his home-town. That
was before moving to Europe where he had his training in Vienna, Munich and
Salzburg and had taken part in numerous master-classes with illustrious
names. One of his tutors was Helmut Deutsch, who has long promoted young
talents and now backs up Mr Song on what I presume is his debut recording.
Deutsch is one of the world’s most experienced accompanists and has made
more than one hundred recordings in this capacity.
The young baritone – he is in his early thirties – has an agreeable voice,
rather dark in timbre but the tone is lightened when needed. I think however
that he should be classified as a bass-baritone. The three Mozart songs,
that open the recital, are nicely executed. We are used to hearing them with
female voices or, perhaps with a tenor, but this works fine. Das
is particularly good. Song's CV tells us that he has
been singing several Mozart roles in opera and you can hear that.
The first group of Schumann songs are even better. Widmung
light and caressing - a lovely reading. Der Nussbaum
inward and beautiful, and this also goes for Meine Rose.
seems to be his true metier.
Four songs from Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch
also suit him
well: healthy, powerful singing paired with lyrical intimacy and rhythmic
acuity are qualities that enable a singer to approach Wolf’s many-faceted
songs with conviction. Add to this an uncommon flexibility of expression and
we have reasons to expect even greater things in the future.
The biggest challenge is however Dichterliebe
, a cycle that is
frequently encountered in recitals and which has been recorded by most of
the great Lieder singers, past and present. Jaded collectors will have
classic recordings by Aksel Schiøtz, Gérard Souzay, Dietrich
Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Schreier and many others. It would be foolish to
anticipate something on that level from a newcomer. The opening three songs,
so well-known, made me change my mind. Aus meinen Tränen spriessen
is an example of lovely singing and Die Rose, die Lilie
by in no time, shows individuality, rather heavily sung but with
distinction. Also When ich in deine Augen seh’
is more outgoing
than usual – but listen to the phrase Ich liebe dich
, sung with a
lovely pianissimo. For each song I feel that here is a strong-willed singer
who isn’t merely copying this or that singer of the past. The readings are
sensitively nuanced throughout and there is power and majesty in Im
Rhein, im heiligen Strome, Ich grolle nicht.
In sharp contrast to the
latter Und wüssten’s die Blumen
is mercurial and filled with
wonder. In fact there is something good to say about each and every one of
the songs, in particular the last five, which I marked with extra
exclamation marks in my notes. It’s a youthful, fresh and insightful reading
and Helmut Deutsch’s contribution to this is admirable.
The two cooperate in the encore, Danke
, which is a beautiful
song, sung with great warmth.
As I intimated earlier there is no lack of admirable recordings of this
masterpiece, and new ones are issued all the time. During the last few weeks
I have had four new versions – OK, one was a reissue but the first ever on
CD of a 65-year-old recording – and it is tremendously difficult to make a
plain choice of one version that makes all the others redundant. Anyone who
invests in the present disc will get a delightful recital, crowned by a
I. Im wunderschönen
II. Aus meinen Tränen spriessen
III. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
IV. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh‘
V. Ich will meine Seele tauchen
VI. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome
VII. Ich grolle nicht
VIII. Und wüssten’s die Blumen, die kleinen
IX. Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen
X. Hör‘ ich das Liedchen klingen
XI. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
XII. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
XIII. Ich hab‘ im Traum geweinet
XIV. Allnächtlich im Träume
XV. Aus alten Märchen winkt es
XVI. Die alten, bösen Lieder