ALBUM TITLE: Robert Schumann: Song Cycles
WORKS: Liederkreis, Opp. 24, 39 & 48
PERFORMER: James Gilchrist (tenor), Anna Tilbrook (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 474
A single disc encompassing the Op. 24 and Op. 39 Liederkreis settings and Dichterliebe could feel over-stuffed. It doesn’t here. Tenor James Gilchrist and pianist Anna Tilbrook allow each cycle to unfold naturally, minutely adjusting the spaces between certain songs to allow the ear to absorb what it has just heard. These performances are nothing if not scrupulously imagined, sometimes risking ugliness in the service of the text. For those who have collected Ian Bostridge, Mark Padmore and Werner Güra’s Schumann discs, this has something of each: impetuosity, literary spark and elegance.
Tilbrook’s navigation of the playouts, those final bars in which it seems that Schumann is communicating something too profound for mere words, is unfailingly lovely, her accompaniments clearly articulated and self-effacing. Gilchrist has a churchy voice, glaringly bright under pressure, but he’s fearlessly expressive. In the first Op. 24 song he is startlingly close – a trick he repeats in ‘Lieb’ Liebchen’. It is in the slow gleam of ‘Ich wandelte unter den Baümen’ and, in Op. 39, ‘Mondnacht’, that he excels. The hoarse utterance at the end of ‘Auf einer Burg’ is well handled too. If Gilchrist and Tilbrook have waited a long time to record these works, their perspective on Dichterliebe, poignant, reflective and weather-worn, has only deepened. Anna Picard