Schubert: Der vierjährige Posten

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Der vierjährige Posten
PERFORMER: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Helen Donath, Peter Schreier; Bavarian Radio Chorus, Munich Radio Orchestra/Heinz Wallberg
CATALOGUE NO: 999 553-2 ADD Reissue
Schubert had a disappointing career as an opera composer, and his stage works have met with only qualified approval in recent revivals. Nevertheless, these operatic rarities reveal the composer’s considerable dramatic skill.

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Wallberg and his team vividly portray the plot of Der vierjährige Posten (The Four-Year Posting) with excellent balance throughout. Clearly spoken dialogue connects the sung items, among which the beautifully focused unaccompanied quartet ‘Mag dich die Hoffnung nicht betrügen’ and Donath’s expressive account of Käthchen’s aria ‘Gott! Gott! Höre meine Stimme’, at the work’s emotional centre, are particular highlights.

Schubert’s attempt to write a genuine German opera based on Castelli’s libretto Die Verschworenen (The Conspirators) shows his convincing assimilation of a wide array of theatrical influences. Mozart is most evident in Helene’s romance ‘Ich schleiche bang und still herum’ and the melodramatic ‘Ja wir schwören’, while Cherubini’s touch is apparent in ‘Verräterei hab’ ich entdeckt’. The cast judge this score’s witty parodies and dramatic pace to great effect, culminating in the two arias and exciting finale.

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It is a shame that Die Verschworenen lacks its overture (rediscovered in 1963) and that there are no texts in the booklets. Even so, I feel sure many will share my enthusiasm for these entertaining recordings. Nicholas Rast