Der Einsame: Drei Gesänge des Harfners; Nachtstück etc
Ilker Arcayürek (tenor), Simon Lepper (piano)
Champs Hill Records CHRCD 133
This recital is called ‘The lonely one’ and Richard Stokes, in his thorough notes to the disc, states ‘Loneliness is the theme that links all the songs on this CD’; but it seems to me that you would have to look hard to find loneliness, as opposed, say, to longing or simply love as the central ingredient in many of them. Still, what matters is that we are offered 24 songs, from all stages of Schubert’s all-too-brief career, and one of the things that strikes one is how difficult it would be, in most cases, to say whether a given song was early or late. The standard is astoundingly high, and at the centre of the recital are the Three Harper’s Songs, to poems from Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, as desolate and desolating as anything Schubert wrote.
The tenor Ilker Arcayürek is a young Turk, light of voice, but not in the English tenor mode. I am in two minds about his accounts of these great songs. On the one hand, I am relieved to hear a singer who doesn’t go in for elaborate interpretation, as if we wouldn’t understand what he was singing if he didn’t go in for emphases and pointers. On the other, I found, listening to the recital straight through, that there is too little variation of tone, so indignation, rage, high spirits are hardly differentiated. Perhaps that is because the sensationally good accompaniment of pianist Simon Lepper does all the interpreting necessary – he is certainly a revelation. I shall return to this recording, but for a few songs at a time.