Schubert Lieder: Der Wanderer

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Delphian
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Schwanengesang – Müller songs; Willkommen und Abschied; Der Wanderer, D 489; Rastlose Liebe; Der Wanderer an den Mond; Wandrers Nachtlied, etc
PERFORMER: Roderick Williams (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: DCD 34170

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Roderick Williams is by no means the first singer to take the persona of the existential Wanderer of the Romantic imagination as the theme for a Schubert recital. But in this, the generous second volume of Iain Burnside’s Schubert song series, the focus is very much on love and separation, on human transience and mutability. And all within an exceptionally imaginative and satisfying piece of programming.

Williams and Burnside start at full gallop, recreating Schubert’s robust response to Goethe’s ‘Willkommen und Abschied’, with Williams riding effortlessly over word-lively melody, and with Burnside uncovering dark human passions behind the equine footfall. And the recital ends on wings of song, with an upbeat ‘Der Musensohn’.

In between, a warm, even cavernous, acoustic gives Williams’s well-groomed baritone plenty of space for his characteristically lovingly moulded phrasing – particularly enriching in their contrasting Boatman songs, and in the four delightfully sequenced ‘water’ songs, from ‘An eine Quelle’ to ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’ which follow.

At the heart of the recital lie the first seven songs, all settings of Ludwig Rellstab, from the Schwanengesang – each one focusing the ambivalent darkness and light at the very heart of Schubert’s own spiritual and musical wandering.

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Hilary Finch