Schubert: Lieder

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LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: An den Mond
WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Dietrich Henschel (baritone), Helmut Deutsch (piano)
The nocturnal Schubert: it seems at first as though Dietrich Henschel and Helmut Deutsch have been inspired by Vols 6 and 8 of the Hyperion Schubert Edition. But these songs of night penetrate a deeper heart of darkness. Henschel’s strong, polished baritone takes on the dark night of the soul, focusing less on serenade and nightscape, and more on the existential loneliness of Schubert’s ubiquitous wanderer, and on the horror of songs such as ‘Der Zwerg’ and ‘Totengräberweise’. Henschel’s good at this: his often relentlessly robust baritone excels in shaking a fist at fate, and in bearing his ‘männliche Brust’ to the elements, be it in the Harz mountains of ‘Auf der Bruck’. But he should beware when he hears the signal of Schubert’s star-shimmer writing. A greater sense of imaginative wonder is demanded from meditations on the numinous night world of ‘Im Freien’ and ‘An den Mond in einer Herbstnacht’. Henschel seems reluctant to visit the private recesses of the heart, and unwilling to create a sense of real innigkeit for the sailor’s song to the twin stars, or for a simple ‘Nachtstück’. Helmut Deutsch supports Henschel loyally where momentum and raw energy rule; but is no more subtle in the shadow-side of these songs. Hilary Finch