Schumann, Wolf

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COMPOSERS: Schumann,Wolf
LABELS: Hanssler
ALBUM TITLE: Eichendorff-Leider
WORKS: Liederkreis, Op.39 (Schumann); Eichendorff-Lieder (Wolf)
PERFORMER: Christophe Prégardien (tenor), Michael Gees (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 98.235
Christoph Prégardien gives us

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a welcome opportunity here to

compare the responses of Wolf

and of Schumann to the poetry of

Eichendorff. Prégadien’s highly

intelligent and conscientiously

perceptive study of the songs pays

dividends in beautifully enunciated

and articulated performances,

particularly in the miniaturism of 16

of Wolf ’s 20 settings.

For Schumann, Prégardien creates

a seamless legato that is as light as the

poetry’s description of the movement

of clouds or the stillness of a moonlit

night. Everywhere, tints and timbres

are exquisitely blended in the fingers

of Prégardien’s accompanist, Gees.

But sometimes Prégardien’s sober

approach misses the sharp end of

Schumann’s emotional life: the piano

has to nudge him into ecstasy at the

end of ‘Schöne Fremde’, and there’s

not quite enough of the shudder

factor in those dark woods of the

German Romantic imagination.

All vocal registers rejoice in the

Op. 39 Liederkreis, with outstanding

performances from Fischer-Dieskau and Eschenbach (DG), Holzmair

and Cooper (Philips) and, most

recently Isokoski and Viitasalo

(Finlandia). But, to close-focus on

tenor recordings, Werner Gura’s

(Harmonia Mundi) is both livelier

and a little more mannered than

Prégardien’s. And Peter Schreier’s

incomparable 1972 Dresden

recording (Berlin Classics reissue,

1994) is the head-and-shoulders

benchmark. With the voice in its

prime, Schreier knows just how to

move on and draw back, in order to

capture vividly the fleeting yet intense

mood changes of this most elusive yet

ever self-renewing cycle – a version

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well worth seeking out. Hilary Finch