The vocal twilight zone of ‘In stiller Nacht’, the first of Andreas Scholl’s chosen songs from Brahms’s Deutsche Volklieder, epitomises what he is trying to do in this thoughtful and eloquent recital. Scholl is seeking out that place in German Lieder where folksong seems to transmute into art song: simplicity is all, and the Brahms songs are performed with virtually no interpretative gloss, allowing words to speak purely through the register and harmonic underlay of their setting.
Even Mozart and Goethe can speak as directly as folksong in Scholl’s poignant and understated performance of Das Veilchen. His partner, Tamar Halperin, who is throughout a most perceptive accompanist, links the Mozart to Schubert’s Im Haine with a perfectly chosen and exquisitely played Schubert Waltz in B minor. She also interleaves a tender performance of Brahms’s A major Intermezzo, between Scholl’s serene Schubert Ave Maria and Du bist die Ruh.
There is a moving meeting between Scholl’s two voices – countertenor and baritone – in Der Tod und das Mädchen; and his ease with the musical and verbal language of Haydn’s English canzonets is a further source of delight in this disarming and beautifully recorded recital.