Brahms: Lieder

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Roman Trekel (baritone); Oliver Pohl (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 87069 2
Roman Trekel’s warm, deep-toned baritone, with its fine, free resonance, is well-nigh ideal for Brahms. And he brings a vivid immediacy of communication to a programme that mingles favourites like ‘Meine Liebe ist grün’ and ‘Von ewiger Liebe’ with magnificent little-known songs such as ‘Über die Heide’ and ‘Verzagen’ – both suffused with an echt-Brahmsian bitterness and disenchantment. Inevitably, moods of nostalgia, loss and isolation prevail, though the darkness is relieved by, say, the delicately ironic ‘Es liebt sich so lieblich’ or the two songs entitled ‘Liebe und Frühling’, where the young Brahms indulges in a rare outburst of unbridled exhilaration. In ‘Meine Liebe ist grün’ and occasionally elsewhere, Trekel can open up over-enthusiastically on high notes, to the detriment of line and security of pitch. And in one or two songs – the solemn forest meditation ‘O kühler Wald’ is a case in point – he can be a shade too extrovert, missing the music’s self-communing ‘Innigkeit’. But far more often Trekel penetrates to the heart of these songs, whether in the turbulence and disillusion of ‘Verzagen’, the deft, eager story-telling of ‘Es liebt sich’ or the assuaging close of ‘Auf dem Kirchhofe’, done with seamless legato and an intense, velvet mezza voce that calls to mind the young Fischer-Dieskau. Oliver Pohl is always a reliable partner, though he’s not flattered by the slightly clangy recording of the piano. True to form, Arte Nova provides German texts but no translations and not a word on the music. But then look at the price. Richard Wigmore