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Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Arias & Overtures
Daniel Behle (tenor)
L’Orfeo Barockorchester/Michi Gaigg
rec. 2016, Schloss Zell an der Pram, Upper Austria
Sung texts with English translations enclosed
World Premiere Recordings (2, 5, 15)
All tracks except tracks 1, 7, 8, 9 & 10 World Premiere Recordings on period instruments
DEUTSCHE HARMONIA MUNDI 88985407212 [60:00]

As can be seen from the list of contents, there are three world premiere recordings, and besides that all except five tracks are world premiere recordings on period instruments. Even with so well-known and extensively recorded composer as Schubert it is possible to make discoveries. Question is: are these discoveries finds? As for those that are world premieres on period instruments this is of course interesting but since I have got very little of that music on modern instruments anyway I can’t make detailed comparisons. Let me just say that the playing of L’Orfeo Barockorchester is utterly accomplished and there is a warmth one associates with Schubert’s music that not every period band can bring about. The booklet lists 38 musicians, which is a fairly big ensemble. They have been active as a unit for twenty years and have a long and varied list of recordings to their credit. The Zauberharfe overture, the best known music on this disc, is played with affection and rhythmical finesse. The overture to act II is hearty and outgoing in a quasi-military idiom and Alfonso und Estrella has both warmth and spirituality.

As for the vocal numbers the Romanze: Was belebt die schöne Welt? (tr. 2) has a beautiful melody and Daniel Behle is at his most suave and nuanced. In Mayrhofer’s Die Freunde von Salamanka, the aria Aus Blumen deuten die Damen gern (tr. 5) is a first recording, but it is the Romanze: Es murmeln die Quellen (tr. 6) that is the most memorable. Alfonso und Estrella has claims to be Schubert’s best opera, even though there is no dramatic power there, as of course is the problem with all his music-dramatic works. The overture is, as I already have mentioned, valuable and the two arias performed here are truly attractive. Fierrabras has also a lot to offer and the romance Der Abend sinkt auf stiller Flur is a gem. The singing is also extraordinarily accomplished. But it is the recitative and aria Was quälst du mich, oh Missgeschick! … In tief bewegter Brust that comes as a surprise. Here is more drama and theatricality than in the other songs. Even more so do we find in the aria from Das Zauberglöckchen:
Der Tag entflieht, der Abend glüht. It surprises me that this in fact is a premiere recording.

Christine Martin writes in her liner notes at some length about Schubert’s philosophy concerning the musical drama. First the tenors in his operas are no heroes on a grand scale but young men who become infatuated and are torn between love and duty. There is no need for big gestures, heroic breast-beating and virtuosity. On the contrary the arias shouldn’t stop the flow of the drama and consequently they are mostly brief and free from manners. Daniel Behle’s lyrical tenor voice, exquisitely handled and with excellent diction, is ideally suited to this repertoire. He has gone from strength to strength during the almost ten years I have been able to follow his development. To my mind, at least, he is probably the best German lyrical tenor since Fritz Wunderlich so tragically passed away more than fifty years ago.

For interesting new repertoire, excellent orchestral playing and singing of the utmost sensitivity this disc should be a valuable addition to any opera lover’s collection.

Göran Forsling

Die Zauberharfe (Melodram) D 644 (1820)
1. Ouvertüre. Andante – Allegro vivace [9:59]
2. Romanze: Was belebt die schöne Welt? [3:48]
3. Ouvertüre zum dritten Akt. Allegro ma non troppo [3:42]
Claudine von Villa Bella (Fragment eines Singspiels in 3 Akten) D 239 (1815)
4. Arie: Es erhebt sich eine Stimme [3:30]
Die Freunde von Salamanka (Singspiel in 2 Akten) D 326 (1815)
5. Arie: Aus Blumen deuten die Damen gern [1:48]
6. Romanze: Es murmeln die Quellen, es leuchtet der Stern [1:27]
Adrast (Singspielfragment) D 137 (1819-1820)
7. Rezitativ & Arie: Ein schlafend Kind! … In diesem waldun´mschloss’nen und ableg’nen Raum [3:58]
8. Arie: Meine Seele, die dich hebt [2:21]
Lazarus (szenisches Oratorium in 3 Akten) D 689 (1820)
9. Arie: Wenn ich ihm nachgerungen habe [2:56]
Alfonso und Estrella (Oper in 3 Akten) D 732 (1821-1822)
10. Ouvertüre. Andante – Allegro [6:25]
11. Arie: Schon, wenn es beginnt zu tagen, wird in mir die Sehnsucht wach [3:04]
12. Arie: Wenn ich dich Holde sehe [1:39]
Fierrabras (Oper in 3 Akten) D 796 (1823)
13. Romanze: Der Abend sinkt auf stiller Flur [3:04]
14. Rezitativ & Arie: Was quälst du mich, oh Missgeschick! … In tief bewegter Brust [5:41]
Das Zauberglöckchen (Opéra comique) D 723 (1821)
15. Arie: Der Tag entflieht, der Abend glüht [6:38]



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