Romantische Arien

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COMPOSERS: Nicolai,Schubert,Schumann,Wagner,Weber
LABELS: Sony Classical
ALBUM TITLE: Romantische Arien
WORKS: Wagner: Blick’ ich umher in diesem edlen Kreise; Wie Todesahnung (Tannhäusser); Schubert: O Himme;! Kannst du mir so freundlich lächeln? (Der Graf von Gleichen); extracts from Alfonso and Estrella; plus works by Schumann, Nicolai and Weber Schumann, Nicolai, Weber
PERFORMER: Christian Gerhaher (baritone); Maximilian Schmitt (tenor); Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Daniel Harding
CATALOGUE NO: 88725422952

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Christian Gerhaher’s Wolfram has followers travelling all over Europe in its wake, so uniquely moving, honest and profound is his response to Wagner’s role. You can eavesdrop on it here in two extracts from Tannhäuser that form the chronological climax to Gerhaher’s first aria-recital album. It traces the evolution of early Romantic German opera from Schubert to Wagner, via Weber and Nicolai.

Both ‘Blick’ ich umher’ and ‘Wie Todesahnung… O du, mein holder Abendstern’ display that simple integrity of an artist who conceals a great deal of art. A sense of wide-eyed innocence is incarnate in Gerhaher’s delectable enunciation and perfection of phrasing and technique. Schubert is represented by an aria from Der Graf von Gleichen, which reveals the fine art of Gerhaher as Lieder singer, and, supremely, by two extracts from Alfonso und Estrella. Spot the hidden reference to Winterreise in the second extract, ‘O sing mir, Vater!’.

As Schumann’s Siegfried (from Genoveva), Gerhaher’s baritone leaps to saddle his steed in an 11-minute dramatic scena in which our crusading hero sings with fine focus and rhythmic energy, superbly supported by Daniel Harding, conducting the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Here, and in the Nicolai and Schubert, Gerhaher is joined by the eloquent tenor of Maximilian Schmitt. Absolutely essential listening.

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Hilary Finch