Schubert’s 600 songs include many unfamiliar titles. One of the chief attractions of Ian Bostridge’s live Wigmore Hall recital, recorded on September 13 2013 with pianist Julius Drake, is that the pair are frequently engaged in exploring beyond the beaten track, and then returning with some wonderful finds: the vast Viola, for instance, is one example, the alternative settings (1815 and 1819) of the Goethe poem An den Mond which provide their encores another. Richard Stokes’ highly informative notes fill us in on the origins and context of each item.
Bostridge will always be a controversial singer. Here his voice often sounds hard-pressed, the tone sometimes uneasy and not always capable of coming up with an ideal range of colours to paint in the emotions necessary for a complete realisation of an individual item – Auf der Donau , for instance. Yet there is equally no gainsaying his interpretative skills, finely deployed, for instance, in the reflective Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren or the tragic intimacy of Nachtstück.
Pianist Julius Drake is in every way a superb partner, offering immaculate playing in the unstoppable momentum of Versunken and picking out the detail in Alinde with extraordinary accomplishment. The two are at their best in the sad, reflective Der Winterabend, but the disc as a whole is a fine achievement.