Schumann: Dichterliebe; Tragödie; Der arme Peter; Belsatzar; Die beiden Grenadiere; Abends am Strand; Mein Wagen rollet langsam; Die feindlichen Brüder; Dein Angesicht so lieb und schön; Was will die einsame Träne?; Du bist wie eine Blume etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Schumann
WORKS: Dichterliebe; Tragödie; Der arme Peter; Belsatzar; Die beiden Grenadiere; Abends am Strand; Mein Wagen rollet langsam; Die feindlichen Brüder; Dein Angesicht so lieb und schön; Was will die einsame Träne?; Du bist wie eine Blume etc
PERFORMER: Gerald Finley (baritone),
Julius Drake (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67676

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Gerald Finley’s Dichterliebe is one of the slowest and saddest on disc. From the very start, the fingers of Julius Drake seem to be waking both Finley’s baritone and the music itself from a long distant dream. The performers’ flexibility of tempo and pacing throughout emphasises what is, quite literally, the trauma of a songcycle sung from the standpoint of loss, where even the sap of spring is sensed through a haze of tears. This is a performance of a heavy and irreparably broken heart – and, as such, its deeply considered and minutely prepared articulation and phrasing can tend to make it seem, especially on the repeated hearings of a recording, just a little over-calculated. The words lie more easily along the line in the recording by Christian Gerhaher (RCA 82876 58995 2); though the true balance of dramatic projection and introspection, of dream and reality is to be found supremely in Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s 1965 recording with Jörg Demus. Finley’s performance gives huge pleasure and insight, though, particularly in the context of a generous compilation of other Heine settings by Schumann, including the four songs originally intended for Dichterliebe, but excised by Schumann just before publication. Finley brings a delightful whimsicality to the vignette of the faces glimpsed through the stagecoach in ‘Mein Wagen rollet langsam’. He also includes three tenderly sung Myrthen from Schumann’s wedding-present to Clara. And the keen sense of scale and pacing in both performers makes for compelling narrative in the longer ‘Die beiden Grenadiere’ and the spooky tale of ‘Belsatzar’. Hilary Finch