Schubert: Mayrhofer Lieder

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Mayrhofer Lieder
PERFORMER: Christoph Prégardien (tenor); Andreas Staier (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8573-85556-2
Johann Mayrhofer’s essentially sombre, pessimistic vision, often expressed through Greek myth, inspired some of Schubert’s most exalted songs: ‘Der zürnenden Diana’, for instance, an almost symphonic paean to reckless, masochistic love, or the apocalyptic, Wagnerian ‘Auflösung’. But even Mayrhofer could lighten up on occasions. And to offset the prevailing Romantic gloom and alienation are such innocent delights as the little-known ‘Nach einem Gewitter’, ‘Wie Ulfru fischt’ – where the fish gets its own back

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after ‘Die Forelle’ – and the sensuous barcarolle ‘Gondelfahrer’.

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For some years now, Christoph Prégardien and Andreas Staier have been one of the most rewarding Lieder duos on the circuit. And this new recital does not disappoint. Prégardien’s clear, graceful tenor, deployed with a pure legato, can reveal an unsuspected depth and incisiveness of tone. And whether in the virile defiance of ‘Der Schiffer’, the yearning tenderness of ‘Nachtviolen’ or the anguished ‘Fragment aus dem Aeschylus’ – a miniature operatic scena, like several other numbers here – his characterisation is always thoughtful and true. As to Staier, no one makes a more eloquent case for using a period fortepiano in this repertoire. His 1826 Graf blends beautifully with Prégardien’s rather instrumental timbre. And he exploits tellingly both its percussive bass (in, say, the ominous deep trills in ‘Auf der Donau’) and the veiled, nocturnal colourings conjured by the una corda pedal. Urgently recommended to Schubert lovers, even those who already own versions of these songs by Fischer-Dieskau et al. Richard Wigmore