Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Der Triumph der Liebe: The Complete Choral Works for Male Voices - Volume 2
Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Veronika Hagen (viola)
Lena Eckels (viola), Yves Sandoz (cello)
Lilian Mann (cello),Petru Iuga (bass)
Camerata Musica Limburg/ Jan Schumacher (conductor)
rec. Ev. Kirche St. Pieter zu Dienz 12 April 2008, Aula Sophie-Hedwig-Gymnasium Diez, 7-9 March, 27- 28 September 2014, 7-8 March 2015, Kleiner Saal Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, 28-30 August 2015
GENUIN GEN16410 [66.48]

A mark of great genius is, perhaps, that everything has the distinctive voice of the creator, and not just the masterpieces. In a true genius, even the scraps seem to have an individual voice. Of course, those moments are not developed always as we might wish. This seems particularly true with a composer such as Schubert, whose genius is most apparent in the way that he will sustain an idea – often of great beauty – to the legendary heavenly lengths.

On this collection of works for male chorus, there is usually no time for the development which is his hallmark, but there a many pleasures to be had. Some of the pieces are brief even by the standards of today’s conventional pop-songs – over half last for less than two minutes, and even the slightly longer pieces tend to the episodic, as in ‘Zur guten Nacht’, the final work, which juxtaposes a tenor soloist, well-sung by Christoph Prégardien, (who is also heard in ‘Schwertlied’ and ‘Trinklied (Funkelnd in Becher’)) with the chorus. In some ways the spirit of the verse is typical of the collection as a representative selection of Schubert’s Romantic literary taste. The spokesman is sending the drinkers off to bed – the hour has struck and they thank ‘mine host’. They sing of the merriness in their hearts and the bonds of friendship. But, in the end, if one should go to his grave, the others will sing a loving good-night.

These touches of melancholy are present in some of the other pieces, though, overall the selection is in lighter mode, with many a raised bottle or cup. ‘Trinklied aus dem 16. Jahrhundert’ is a Latin drinking song of great gusto (It shares a few lines with ‘In taberna quando sumus’ (‘When we are in the tavern’) which is No. 14 in Orff’s Carmina Burana). ‘Klage um Ali Bey’ is something of a rarity for Schubert – a humorous satirical song, though even here about the death of the Egyptian military leader killed on the Ottoman-Russo War of 1768-1774. According the verse (Richard Wigmore’s translation) “He scorned wine and women,/ pursuing only the path of war,/ and was beloved/ by the journalists”. Many of the verses set are by the usual Romantic suspects – Goethe, Klopstock, Ossian, Schiller, Scott.

This might have been a rather unvaried programme, but interest is maintained throughout, both by the quality of performance from musicians who recognize that occasional pieces must be treated seriously for repeated hearing, and by variation in accompaniment. Many pieces are for unaccompanied choir, but ‘Gesang der Geister über den Wassern’, the first and longest piece – to words by Goethe - was set by Schubert no fewer than four times. In this version, the setting is for the unusual combination of two violas, two cellos, bass and eight part male choir. It is a complex work, but very much worth the effort of hearing. Ten other pieces have piano accompaniment.  

Performances are sympathetic, the music continually interesting, the recording clear in the different venues, and texts and translations are well-presented. This is not essential Schubert, but an aspect of his talent worth getting to know.

Michael Wilkinson

Not essential Schubert, but an aspect of his talent worth getting to know.

Gesang der Geister über den Wassern D714 [9.22]
Ein jugendlicher Maienschwung D 61 [2.52]
La pastorella al Prato D513 [1.51]
Selig durch die Liebe D55 [1.36]
Bardengesang D147 [1.28]
Klage um Ali Bey D140 [3.39]
Räuberlied D435/13 [2.01]
Bootgesang D835 [1.31]
Majestätsche Sonnenrose D64 [0.54]
Chor der Ritter D796/14 [1.39]
Lied eines Kriegers D882 [3.18]
Schlachtlied D912 [4.34]
Trinklied vor der Schlacht D169 [1.30]
Wer die steile Sternenbahn D63 [2.13]
Schlachtlied D443 [2.19]
Thronend auf erhabnem Sitz D62 [1.22]
Schwertlied D170 [2.22]
Jünglingswonne D983 [1.55]
Liebe D983A [1.21]
Zum Rundetanz D983B [1.38]
Die Nacht D983C [3.08]
Der Schnee zerrint D130 [1.20]
Jagdlied D521 [1.35]
Trinklied aus dem 16. Jahrhundert D847 [2.03]
Trinklied (Funkelnd in Becher) D356 [1.36]
Wein und Liebe D901 [3.16]
Zur guten Nacht D903 [4.09]

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