Schumann: Album of Songs for the Young; Lieder und Gesänge I, Op. 27

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Schumann
WORKS: Album of Songs for the Young; Lieder und Gesänge I, Op. 27
PERFORMER: Sibylla Rubens(soprano), Stefanie Iranyi (mezzo-soprano), Thomas Bauer (baritone), Uta Hielscher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557076
Robert Schumann was an ambassador for song among the young – and how! Sadly his Album of Songs for the Young are now deemed to be far too taxing for young singers. Yet they are rarely seized upon by fully-fledged professionals. On that latter point, Sybilla Rubens, Stefanie Iranyi and Thomas E Bauer beg to differ; they turn out stylish performances of the 29 ditties, from the simplest sweet song to the ‘Evening Star’ (Bauer), to tricksy duets about swallows and spinning wheels (Rubens and Iranyi) – and on to truly adult songs such as ‘Er ist’s’ and ‘Mignon’. Ute Hielscher is everywhere here an astute and supportive accompanist.

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It’s a fascinating scrapbook in sound from the social history of childhood: a pre-industrialised Hansel and Gretel world of Sandmen and guardian angels, where it seems to be nearly always the month of May (when it’s not Christmas). Enjoy it all while it lasts – and relish, too, Bauer’s word-lively performances of the contemporary first volume of Schumann’s Lieder und Gesange, Op. 27. Hilary Finch