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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Goethe Lieder
Ganymed, D544 [3:57]
Erster Verlust, D226 [1:43]
Rastlose Liebe, D138 [1:28]
Meeres Stille, D216, Op. 3 No. 2 [2:25]
Harfenspieler I 'Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt', D478 [3:31]
Harfenspieler II 'An die Türen will ich schleichen’, D479 [4:08]
Harfenspieler III 'Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen ass', D480 [2:13]
Der Musensohn, D764 [2:03]
Der König in Thule, D367 [3:11]
Heidenröslein, D257 [1:44]
Der Fischer, D225 [3:06]
Erlkönig, D328 [4:30]
Am Flusse, D766 [1:53]
An den Mond, D296 [5:07]
Wandrers Nachtlied II 'Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh', D768 [2:10]
Versunken D715 [2:01]
Geheimes, D719 [1:34]
An die Entfernte, D765 [2:51]
Willkommen und Abschied, D767 [3:47]
Mauro Peter (tenor); Helmut Deutsch (piano)
rec. 25-27 February 2015, Radiostudio Zürich, Leutschenbach, Switzerland
German texts included
SONY CLASSICAL 88875 083882 [53:20]

Last year I was very impressed by a live recording of Die schöne Müllerin (review). It featured the young Swiss tenor, Mauro Peter and was issued on the Wigmore Hall Live label. It preserved a performance given at the celebrated London hall in January 2014. Later that same year Peter gave a recital at the ‘Schubertiade’ festival in Schwarzenberg, Austria. On that occasion, as at the Wigmore Hall, he was partnered by the distinguished pianist, Helmut Deutsch. Their Schwarzenberg recital was devoted to Goethe settings by Schubert and the programme was subsequently recorded as a co-production between the Swiss radio station DRS2 Kultur and Sony Classical and now appears on this CD.

Schubert used words by Goethe in seventy song settings but, as Susanne Kübler reminds us in the booklet, he got scant thanks for his trouble. Even when Schubert sent him a parcel of songs in 1816 the great poet did not deign to reply though apparently he later came to admire Erlkönig. Mauro Peter’s well-chosen programme includes 19 songs.

From the outset he makes a fine impression, evidencing fine clarity of both tone and diction in Ganymed. He enunciates the words with understanding yet without affectation. All those qualities – and more – are on display throughout the programme. So, too, is the stylish pianism of Helmut Deutsch. It’s worth recalling at this point that Peter was a pupil of Helmut Deutsch at the Munich Musikhochschule. Deutsch has performed with many of the world’s great exponents of Lieder over the years and I should imagine he can be pretty choosy about who he works with. I doubt he forms working partnerships with too many former pupils so he clearly recognised something special in Mauro Peter.

To my ears Erster Verlust indicates that Peter has just the right tenor timbre for Schubert. His voice is light yet firm and there’s also lots of flexibility in his vocal production. On top of all that he’s nicely expressive. He brings impetuous urgency to Rastlose Liebe and then follows that up with controlled stillness in Meeres Stille. We shall encounter something similar later in the programme in a rapt rendition of Wandrers Nachtlied II in which the performance is further distinguished by Deutsch’s perfectly weighted accompaniment.

The three Gesänge des Harfners all bring out different facets of Peter’s art. In Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt he offers a seamless line and very expressive delivery. Then An die Türen will ich schleichen is put across with intense feeling, the voice beautifully produced. Finally, Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen ass is one of several songs in the programme that demonstrates his even vocal compass and in particular his seemingly effortless top register.

Several of the chosen songs are among Schubert’s best known. Der Musensohn is given a most attractive performance. I love the bounding gait which both performers bring to the music. Heidenröslein is beautifully done. The singer’s delivery is easy and relaxed but at the same time he finds all the expression in Schubert’s winning setting. In complete contrast the singing in Erlkönig is dramatic and compelling; here Helmut Deutsch is superb, driving the story forward with tense, strongly articulated playing. We need some relaxation after that and so the tranquil Am Flusse is intelligently placed within the programme. Immediately afterwards I greatly admired the poise which both musicians bring to An den Mond.

This is an exemplary Schubert recital, which I enjoyed very much indeed. Mauro Peter is twenty-eight so he’s at the age when Schubert was in the full flood of creativity. It’s fascinating to hear this exciting young singer and the “wise old head” pianist performing these songs. We’re told in the booklet that there was, from the outset, a pretty strong identity of view between them over each interpretation. The results, as presented in this album, are marvellous.

The recording is a good one, achieving a pleasing balance between singer and piano. It’s a pity that only the German texts are provided when the booklet essay is also given in English and French.

John Quinn



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