Julian Prégardien: Schubertiade

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COMPOSERS: Franz Schubert
LABELS: Myrios
ALBUM TITLE: Schubertiade
WORKS: Lieder, instrumental pieces and poems by and inspired by Franz Schubert
PERFORMER: Julian Prégardien (tenor, recitation), Philippe Pierlot (baritone), Marc Hantaï (transverse flute), Xavier Diaz-Latorre (guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: Myrios MYR 018 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Julian Prégardien, tenor son of tenor father Christoph, is understandably driven by the need to discover ever new ways of presenting Lieder. His latest project is an imaginative recreation of a musical soirée such as may have been enjoyed in early 19th-century Vienna: a Schubertiad in which a Spanish guitarist, a Belgian cellist and a Parisian flautist meet with a German singer to forage through a pile of songs, waltzes, instrumental pieces, and poems and prose for the reciting.

This makes for a captivating and most artfully programmed recital in which Prégardien’s tenor is lightly suspended over a guitar’s gentle strumming in an arrangement by Anton Diabelli of Schubert’s Der Wanderer – and, in its shadows, Prégardien himself is heard reciting Schubert’s own moving words on the redress of Art in an era of societal pain and corruption.

The guitar provides a deliciously apt plucked accompaniment for Heidenröslein, delicately inflected
as a fragile Biedermaier miniature.
The baryton (cello-like member of the gamba family) transforms Auf dem Strom into a wistful, other-worldly sepia tableau. And the flute brings bittersweet ambiguity to Lachen und weinen.

It has to be said that both vocal and instrumental performances limit themselves to a single palette of whiter shades of pastel pale: the unremitting melancholy and nuanced half-tones which this creates will enchant some listeners, and possible bore and alienate others.

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Hilary Finch