LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Lieder, Vol. 1: Des Fischers Liebesglück; Der Winterabend; Grenzen der Menschenheit; Fahrt zum Hades etc
PERFORMER: Matthias Goerne (baritone), Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901988
Having wooed Matthias Goerne away from Decca, Harmonia Mundi is celebrating with a new Schubert series. It’s not one which aims at totality, as does Hyperion’s, nor is it one which diligently trawls through dates and poets as does Naxos’s. Rather, the Matthias Goerne Schubert Edition matches a singer with pianists who reflect Goerne’s own discrimination and exacting casting, and pits these musicians against Schubert’s shifting soul-states. ‘Sehnsucht’ comes first, that archetypal sense of longing which is at the heart of every Romantic poet and composer: Schubert’s Schiller setting moves eloquently from yearning towards the need to believe and to dare. Goerne does both. He is master-sculptor of Goethe’s vision of the infinite chain of existence in ‘Grenzen der Meischeit’ and, with pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja in proudly proactive form, dares to face the dark, leering faces of hell in ‘Grupper aus dem Tartarus.’ Goerne’s renowned breath control (in a recording which takes us deep into his lungs) creates the hushed legato which is his hallmark. This comes into its own in the Mayrhofer and Leitner settings, creating the mesmeric lilt of water and of light. Only in Leitner’s ‘Der Winterabend’ is it evident that Goerne can tend to rely on this slightly too often: sometimes a keener edge of angst or of wide-eyed wonder would be welcome.