Das Heimweh; Gesange Aus ‘Wilhelm Meister’; Der Hirt auf dem Felsen; Ave Maria, etc
Anna Lucia Richter (soprano), Matthias Schorn (clarinet), Gerold Huber (piano)
Pentatone PTC 5186722 (hybrid CD/SACD) 80:58 mins
Exciting changes may be gradually taking place in the conservative world of 19th-century German song performance, as this outstanding recital may suggest. Anna Lucia Richter is still early in her career, yet demonstrates astonishing versatility, insight and intelligence in this programme of Schubert songs. Gerold Huber’s extensive experience as an accompanist is revealed as he draws the tenderest sounds from his piano without ever descending into mawkish exaggeration. Both artists know how to stretch time, bearing us expertly us on the ebb and flow of Schubert’s music.
The programme, called Heimweh (homesickness), draws together a thoughtful and moving selection of songs, some extremely well-known (Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’, for instance) and others rarely heard (the melodrama ‘Abschied von der Erde’ and the extended ballad ‘Viola’). While the overall mood is understandably bleak, Richter and Huber nevertheless offer considerable variety, especially of colour. The three songs of the child Mignon, from Goethe’s Faust, are rendered with a transparently white sound. The gravedigger’s song of homesickness ‘Totengräbers Heimweh’ – almost inevitably sung by a man nowadays – shows impressive heft and depth in the lower reaches of both the voice and piano. Richter renders the sinister necrophiliac ballad ‘Der Zwerg’ with a nasal, eerie bite in her sound that is unnerving and thrilling. I particularly loved the tasteful ornaments in ‘An den Mond’, which are historically justified and wonderfully appropriate, especially in strophic songs – we could do with more of this. I’m looking forward to their next release.