Schubert’s Women – Lieder and Scenas
Klaudia Tandl (mezzo-soprano), Gabriele Jacoby (narrator), Niall Kinsella (piano)
Gramola 99223 62:26 mins
This recital offers an appealing selection of largely well-known Schubert settings, with added interest given by interleaving the groups of songs with poems Schubert set – heard in thrilling, animated readings by Austrian actor Gabriele Jacoby. This attractive idea both recalls the musical-declamatory evenings of Schubert’s day, as well as more recent series’ such as Graham Johnson’s Songmaker’s Almanac.
The recital was born at the Franz Schubert Institute where pianist Niall Kinsella devised a programme that would show different sides of the female character as depicted in the poetry of Schubert’s day, organised in small groups. Familiar musical ground is trod with the inclusion of the famous settings of Goethe’s Mignon and Gretchen poems.
Does it work as a programme? There are some inexplicable shifts of mood, and more could have been done to connect textures, keys and ideas, but that does not detract from the basic quality of the chosen songs and poems; Goethe’s ‘Kennst du das Land’ is spellbinding as poem or song. ‘Der Jüngling an der Quelle’ opens magically, with perfectly judged colour, but ‘Der Fischer’ feels heavy. The recorded sound could be more even and blooming, and balance between voice and piano is not always sympathetic. Mezzo Klaudia Tandl has a beautiful, rich sound and an elegant, untroubled delivery; Kinsella is a meticulous collaborator; and both could push for greater elasticity and variety. If not revelatory, altogether this is polished music-making of fine repertoire.
Find out more about Schubert and his works