Clara & Robert Schumann

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Clara & Robert Schumann
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Liederkreis; Dichterliebe
PERFORMER: Bo Skovhus (baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SK 62372
That Clara Schumann was a pianist and not a singer is evident from her Lieder. The piano parts are elegantly evocative of the text, with their subtle arrangements and moody postludes. The vocal lines, however, are uninspiring and unadorned, providing little for the singer to work with, a shortcoming highlighted by their juxtaposition here with her husband Robert’s great Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op. 24

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Bo Skovhus is one of the most stylish and expressive of the new generation of Lieder singers, but even he cannot infuse Clara’s songs with any real depth or insight, and his performance seems reverent rather than inspired. His response to Robert’s songs is another matter. This is a beautifully judged account of two peerless song cycles, eloquent and expressive, even if he underplays the torment and vulnerability inherent in Heine’s poems.

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Double Image, whose disc contains Clara Schumann’s Jucunde and Sämtliche Lieder as well as various piano trios, is a young ensemble that specialises in ‘new or neglected works [and] is keen to promote music by female composers’. A laudable ambition, and live they may succeed in fulfilling it. But CD is a cruelly exposing format, and Kym Amps’s thin, shrill soprano simply doesn’t bear the scrutiny. Claire Wrathall