Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann & Silcher

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COMPOSERS: Mendelssohn,Schubert,Schumann & Silcher
LABELS: Orfeo
ALBUM TITLE: Liedertafel
WORKS: Lieder by Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann & Silcher
PERFORMER: Christian Elsner, James Taylor (tenor), Michael Volle (baritone), Franz-Josef Selig (bass), Gerold Huber (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: C 618 041 Z
One of the many lesser-known aspects of Schubert of which the great 1997 anniversary celebrations made us aware was the body of partsongs – drinking songs, ditties for literary and masonic fraternities, student songs – he composed in the tradition of his earlier contemporaries such as Carl Friedrich Zelter and Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch. They crept into Hyperion’s Schubert Edition, and were gloriously celebrated by Die Symphoniker (CPO) in their complete series. Now a group named after those evenings of musical camaraderie, Liedertafel, offers a selection performed live from the Rheingau Festival, and superbly recorded with lively spatial perspectives. Liedertafel is canny enough to include a handful of songs by Friedrich Silcher: their four-square folksiness shows just how refined were the wonders wrought by Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn. These are real performances, and the quartet of male voices relishes the independent voice-writing of Schubert’s ‘Der Gondelfahrer’, and the fine tapestry of harmony woven in ‘Die Nacht’. Mendelssohn sets Heine’s ‘Am fernen Horizonten’ with a gentle melancholy worlds away from Schubert’s spooky Schwanengesang setting. And Schumann creates a close-harmony dream-world for that poet’s ‘Die Lotosblume’. An excellent booklet essay says it all about the Liedertafel tradition; but, sadly, leaves no room for song texts. Hilary Finch

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