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REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 – 1791)
An Chloë KV 524 [2:42]
Abendempfindung KV 523 [4:32]
Das Veilchen KV 476 [2:25]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810 – 1856)
Widmung Op. 25 No. 1 [2:00]
Der Nussbaum Op. 25 No. 2 [3:01]
Meine Rose Op. 90 No. 2 [3:17]
Hugo WOLF (1860 – 1903)
From Italienisches Liederbuch:
I.3 Ihr seid die Allerschönste weit und breit [1:31]
I.4 Gesegnet sei, durch den die Welt entstund [1:17]
II.5 Schon streckt‘ ich aus im Bett die müden Glieder [1:50]
II.13 Benedeit die sel’ge Mutter [3:22]
Robert SCHUMANN
Dichterliebe Op. 48 [29:04]
Siwoung SONG (b. 1981)/Helmut DEUTSCH (b. 1945)
Danke [2:12]
Siwoung Song (baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
rec. live, Kumho Art Hall, Seoul, South Korea, 2014
Sung texts enclosed but no translations
GRAMOLA 99055 [57:13]

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 Veilchen 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 is light and caressing - a lovely reading. Der Nussbaum is lyrical, inward and beautiful, and this also goes for Meine Rose. Schumann 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, sweeping 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 memorable Dichterliebe.

Göran Forsling

Dichterliebe
I. Im wunderschönen Monat Mai [1:28]
II. Aus meinen Tränen spriessen [0:52]
III. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne [0:36]
IV. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh‘ [1:32]
V. Ich will meine Seele tauchen [0:57]
VI. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome [2:05]
VII. Ich grolle nicht [1:31]
VIII. Und wüssten’s die Blumen, die kleinen [1:16]
IX. Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen [1:34]
X. Hör‘ ich das Liedchen klingen [2:19]
XI. Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen [1:06]
XII. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen [2:37]
XIII. Ich hab‘ im Traum geweinet [2:20]
XIV. Allnächtlich im Träume [1:29]
XV. Aus alten Märchen winkt es [2:33]
XVI. Die alten, bösen Lieder [4:39]


 




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