Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Anima Eterna Brugge/Jos van Immerseel (piano/director)
Various singers
rec. July 2014, Concertgebouw Bruges, Belgium
ALPHA 216 [4 CDs: 261:38]

One-word reviews are frowned upon by the editor, or else I’d submit simply: “Delightful!” But then again it’s not difficult to inflate the word-count a bit on behalf of this 4-CD release on Alpha, titled simply “Schubertiade”. The popular on-line encyclopedia defines Schubertiade as “an event held to celebrate the music of Franz Schubert.” Simple – and that’s exactly what Jos van Immerseel and his coterie of musical friends and partners do: four hour-long concerts of Schubert’s music, where every musician takes his or her turn.

Each evening has one or two larger work(s) surrounded by apropos Schubertiana: The Trout Quintet (disc 1), the Divertissement à la Hongroise for piano four hands (disc 2), F minor Fantasy for four hands and the G minor Violin Sonata (disc 3), and the Arpeggione and the four-hand Allegro (Lebensstürme) (disc 4). It all ends, how fittingly, with “An die Musik”. In doing so, these evenings catch the slightly random spirit of what a Schubertiade might be like, the familiar rubbing shoulders with the completely unknown, delivered not in absolute perfection, but with absolute infectiousness! There’s not a dull minute; the switching from chamber music to piano duo to song to (male) vocal quartet (!) is delightful, because it’s both natural and very much not done anymore, in the strictly regimented, often sadly boring, nothing-daring monoculture of classical recitals. I’d lament how much I should have liked to be present at these four concerts, but then playing these discs really comes very close to it.

The lovely sound of the various period instruments well caught and will further delight anyone not averse to natural horns (“Nachtgesang im Walde” D.913) or an 18th century clarinet (Der Hirt auf dem Felsen, D.965) or the various fortepianos used. The four-hand keyboard works of Schubert (not just in my estimation some of the best work Schubert wrote; the three ‘big ones’ are all included here) are given particularly fine renditions; perhaps in part a consequence of those works actually being played with two bums on one piano bench and twenty fingers sharing one keyboard, rather than cheating by using two pianos instead. The soloists and singers include the likes of Midori Seiler (violin), Thomas Bauer (baritone), and Marianne Beate Kielland (mezzo). I love everything about it. Or, as I said: Delightful!

Jens F. Laurson

Ständchen 'Zögernd leise', D920/921
Gretchen am Spinnrade, D118
Die junge Nonne, D828
Piano Quintet in A major, D667 'The Trout'
Nachtgesang im Walde, D913
Impromptu in C minor, D899 No. 1
Du liebst mich nicht D756 (Platen)
Notturno in E flat major for piano trio, D897 (Op. post.148)
L'incanto degli occhi, D902 No. 1 (Metastasio)
Il traditor deluso D902 No. 2 (Metastasio)
Il modo di prender moglie D902 No. 3 (anonymous)
Divertissement à la Hongroise D818
Der Wanderer, D489
Sonatina (Sonatina) in G minor, D408 (Op. posth. 137 No. 3)
Nacht und Träume, D827
Fantasie in F minor for piano duet, D940
Der König in Thule, D367
La Pastorella, D513
Du bist die Ruh D776 (Rückert)
An Sylvia, D891
Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, D929 - 2nd movement
Die Taubenpost, D965A (D957 No. 14)
An Die Musik In D major, Op.88/4, D.547

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