WORKS: Mirjams Siegesgesang, D942; Hagars Klage, D5; Die Allmacht, D875A; Himmelsfunken, D651
PERFORMER: Christine Brewer, Patricia Rozario, Lorna Anderson (soprano), Catherine Denley, Catherine Wyn-Rogers (alto), Paul Robinson (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)Holst Singers/Stephen Layton
CATALOGUE NO: CDJ 33031
Vol. 31 of the Hyperion Schubert Edition, and we’re still not home and dry. More songs (a generous 75 minutes’ worth), more chronologies, more ever-illuminating notes and commentaries by Graham Johnson – this time on the subject of Schubert and religion. This, indeed, yields one of Johnson’s most fascinating essays and – when it comes to the single Hebrew Psalm Schubert composed for Salomon Sulzer, much admired cantor of the new Seitenstettengasse synagogue in Vienna – insight into aspects of that city’s cultural history which are still all too little known.
Schubert’s music ‘on religious themes’ ranges widely, from the high-flown Deism of the poet Klopstock, here represented by the boldly oratorical ‘Dem Unendlichen’, to the intimate pantheism of ‘Im Abendrot’, and the Biblical epics of Hagars Klage and Mirjams Siegesgesang. Christine Brewer’s brilliant and feisty soprano has the measure both of the fevered 16-minute lament of the outcast Hagar and her son Ishmael, which was the 14-year-old Schubert’s first complete vocal work; and of the 18-minute Victory Song of Miriam (worthy, comments Johnson, of Cecil B de Mille) in which Brewer is joined by the Holst Singers. They, too, join baritone Paul Robinson for an eloquent performance of Psalm 92, in Hebrew as idiomatic as Schubert’s own setting. Hilary Finch