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Schubert: Schwanengesang (Schuen/Heide)

Andrè Schuen (baritone), Daniel Heide (piano) (DG)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Andrè Schuen (baritone), Daniel Heide (piano)
DG 486 3313   54:30 mins


The Italian baritone Andrè Schuen and his pianist Daniel Heide suggest that there are hints of a through-written theme in Schubert’s posthumously published swan song. Yet if this collection presents the history of another love-lost wanderer it seems less evident than the infinite variety of the composer’s last 14 songs.

Not that Schuen and Heide fail to rise to the emotional challenge of both the Heine and Rellstab settings. The babbling brook in the opening ‘Liebesbotschaft’ offers us an ironic reminder of the young man who fell for the Miller’s daughter. Then the mood darkens in ‘Kriegers Ahnung’, with a last verse suffused with introspection and a final piano note somehow left hanging orphan-like on the air.

By the time we reach the five Heine settings, it’s Schubert’s protean approach to songwriting that you really hear – sometimes straightforwardly strophic in styles that look back to Beethoven, and sometimes through-composed, hinting at how the century ahead will reinvent the German lieder. Yet form and feeling are grimly reunited in ‘Der Doppelgänger’ built from little more than a sequence of slow-moving chords that ratchet up the emotional anxiety until the poet/singer all but howls as he recognises himself in his ‘other’. What empathy this is from these two young artists!


Christopher Cook