Schubert: Lieder

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Ruth Ziesak (soprano), Roman Trekel (baritone), Ulrich Eisenlohr (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554795
The sleep of reason certainly engenders monsters; but eras dominated by materialistic rationalism create their own soul hunger. And in the 18th century, the rewritings of the ancient bards were the Tolkien of their day. A longing for the unfathomable truths of myth and legend inspired James Macpherson’s 1760 collection of Ossian’s bardic utterances – and Germany fell for them in a big way. The ‘Homer of the North’, as Ossian was somewhat confusingly called, inspired the young Goethe, Hölderlin – and, in turn, Schubert. At 18, he became absorbed in composing the dramatic scenae which here form the seventh volume of Naxos’s poet-by-poet Deutsche-Schubert-Lied-Edition.

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The silver-voiced soprano Ruth Ziesak makes a welcome appearance in the long declamatory ballad ‘Shilrik und Vinvela’. And Roman Trekel’s dark, severe baritone is well cast as the doughty Celtic warrior-hero: on his return from Fingal’s war, Vinvela is already ‘as mist before the wind’. Ziesak’s performance of the Orcadian ‘Maid of Inistore’, too, is deeply poignant – though there are times when one longs for Ulrich Eisenlohr’s penny-plain piano accompanying to be charged with the vivid presence of a Graham Johnson in this repertoire.

Walter Scott is here, too: Ziesak brings lunar beauty to Ellen’s Songs from The Lady of the Lake, and

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Trekel relishes his ‘Romance of Richard the Lionheart’ from Ivanhoe. Hilary Finch