Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Haydn; Britten; Beethoven
LABELS: BR Klassik
ALBUM TITLE: Folkslied
WORKS: Haydn: Scottish and Welsh Songs; Britten: Folksong arrangements; Beethoven: Scottish Lieder
PERFORMER: Christian Gerhaher (baritone), Anton Barachovsky (violin), Sebastian Klinger (cello), Gerold Huber (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BR Klassik 900131


The demarcation zone between ‘art song’ and ‘heart song’ (as Walt Whitman had it) is fragile and ever fascinating. And the borderlands between Kunstlied and Volkslied is the subject of this short, small-scale 53-minute recital. I rather like the baritone Christian Gerhaher’s own term ‘re-singing’ to describe the evolution of song as revealed in a recital which imaginatively and sensitively frames a selection of Benjamin Britten’s Folksong Arrangements with the then fashionable settings of Scottish and Welsh folk poetry by Haydn and Beethoven. Gerhaher also writes illuminatingly about his choice of edition.

Word-lively, supple and instinctive of inflection, Gerhaher’s is the perfect voice for a song such as Haydn’s ‘Flow gently, sweet Afton’ (in German). And his command of both English and Lallans Scots (for example, in Beethoven’s setting of James Hogg’s tongue-twisting ditties) is formidable. I don’t know another non-native singer who uses the English language so sensitively and impeccably in Britten’s Folksong Arrangements: Gerhaher’s fluency and elision of consonants and vowels in the Thomas Moore settings is both admirable and moving.

A palpably live and well-balanced recording from March 2013, in Munich’s Prinzregenten theatre, is enhanced by the violin and cello playing of Anton Barachovsky and Sebastian Klinger, and the always sentient piano accompaniments of the faithful Gerold Huber.


Hilary Finch