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Schubert: Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe etc

Samuel Hasselhorn (baritone), Joseph Middleton (piano) (Harmonia Mundi)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Schubert
Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe; Auf dem Wasser zu singen; Totengräbers Heimwehe, etc
Samuel Hasselhorn (baritone), Joseph Middleton (piano)
Harmonia Mundi HMM902689   68:58 mins

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A canny conflation of trusty evergreens with ‘the path less trodden’ plus a flair for pungent balladry informed Samuel Hasselhorn’s previous recorded collaboration with pianist Joseph Middleton. Now they turn their attention from Schumann to Schubert, repeating the formula in an exploration of the title song’s Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe (Faith, Hope, Love) – touchstones, maintains Hasselhorn, of Lieder’s imperative to hold up a mirror to the human condition. Favourites such as Erlkönig and Nacht und Träume are spliced with less well-known fare, and the final work – Abschied von der Erde (paired with a setting of Mayrhofer’s Abschied) – eschews the sung voice for a spoken text with accompaniment enfolding the last words of a dying man, (any hint of mawkishness happily sidestepped).

Death shadows many of the songs, but some of the pairings are particularly instructive. Am Tage aller Seelen, for example, takes on the mantle of a lullaby for Erlkönig’s dead child; and Des Fischers Liederglück is answered by the rippling reassurance of Auf dem Wasser zu singen. Hasselhorn’s emotional range is formidable, alive to the power of a single carefully-coloured inflection within the arc of a perfectly-shaped line. Spurred on by Middleton, the acuity of the storytelling never falters from the grotesquerie of Der Zwergto the terrifying, frenzied landscape of Erlkönig – the child’s cries of ‘mein Vater’ chilling; the last two words, ‘war tod’, numb with unutterable horror. A worthy successor to the Schumann disc, Glaube is at once a thoughtful and thought-provoking Schubertiade rich in illuminating juxtapositions and insights.

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Paul Riley