Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Mendelssohn, Loewe & R Strauss

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Loewe & R Strauss,Mendelssohn,Schubert,Schumann,Wolf
ALBUM TITLE: A Romantic Songbook
WORKS: Songs by Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Mendelssohn, Loewe & R Strauss
PERFORMER: Thomas Quasthoff (bass-baritone), Justus Zeyen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 474 501-2
This is a real midsummer night’s dream of a disc: an album of early to late Romanticism which moves, on wings of song, from intimate Schubertiad to the dramatic performance art of Loewe. It was all done in a Munich studio; but the shape of the programming, and its sheer presence – down to the last, gently busking ‘Danny Boy’ encore – recreates the sense of a live recital. A warmly resonant acoustic contains the full breadth and depth of Thomas Quasthoff’s baritone as it thermals on the warm spring air of Schubert’s ‘Frühlingsglaube’ or basks in the sunset glow of ‘Im Abendrot’. Justus Zeyen, Quasthoff’s regular accompanist, brings such concentration to the hoofbeat of ‘Auf der Bruck’ that the voice is freed to vary endlessly its weight and velocity in the saddle. Zeyen as stage-manager makes a magnificent contribution, too, to Quasthoff’s chilling narration of Schumann’s ballad ‘Belsatzar’ and to his totally compelling way with Loewe’s spooky Nordic tale-telling – always something of a Quasthoff speciality. Quasthoff has finally turned his attention to Wolf and Strauss: three highly perceptive Mörike settings and, with an equally formidable palette of tone and colour, four of Strauss’s greatest hits. More of each now, please! Hilary Finch