WORKS: Du bist die Ruh; Du bist wie eine Blume; Auf Flügeln des Gesanges
PERFORMER: Olaf Bär (baritone); Geoffrey Parsons (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55345 2 DDD
This is a wonderful programme of love songs with the poetry of, among others, Heine, Eichendorff and Goethe set by eight composers from Mozart to Strauss. The sound balance and clarity of both the voice and piano are superb. These were among Geoffrey Parsons’s last recording sessions and the strength, precision, delicacy and depth of his accompaniments are to be treasured.
Bär has one of the most warm and tender baritone voices and, when not straining, he has an exquisite sensitivity to words. In Schubert’s ‘Nähe des Geliebten’, he delivers a shimmering sound, but in ‘Du bist die Ruh’ from the same group he falls into the bad habit of forcing and distorting vowels, ruining some otherwise beautiful lines. His voice pulsates with just the right degree of awe and wonder in Mendelssohn’s ‘Auf Flügeln des Gesanges’ and, from the Schumann group, ‘Du bist wie eine Blume’ is sheer bliss.
In the Brahms, Wolf and Strauss groups Bär covers the broad canvases with glorious strokes of sound and drama, but the overall impression from this disc is that this very special voice is vacillating between good and only middling performance delivery. Elise McDougall