Schubert/Brahms/Duparc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert/Brahms/Duparc
LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Songs
PERFORMER: Roman Trekel (baritone), Oliver Pohl (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 83013 2
Roman Trekel’s virile, dark-toned baritone and sensitivity to verbal nuance immediately impress in ‘Auf der Bruck’, where, more than most singers, he catches the longing and anxiety beneath the bravado. Elsewhere in his Schubert group he lightens his tone effectively for ‘Fischerweise’ (with a vivid contrast between blithe insouciance and a more pointed, knowing manner for the final verse) and deploys a silken legato and a rapt, intense pianissimo in ‘Nacht und Träume’. In ‘Der Musensohn’ characterisation sometimes comes at the expense of the singing line – though I liked Trekel’s sly mockery of the gauche village dancers. But, abetted by his discerning accompanist, he gives a wonderfully ardent, spontaneous performance of ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’.

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In Brahms’s mighty final testament, the Four Serious Songs, Trekel is almost as impressive, phrasing in broad, grave spans (his breath control is in the Fischer-Dieskau class) and responsive alike to the bleakness and bitterness of the first two songs and the compassionate major-keyed close of the third. Trekel’s moving, concentrated reading is marred only by a touch of operatic fulsomeness in the final song. Some may raise an eyebrow at the inclusion of a Duparc group. But if his French, like that of most non-native singers, isn’t totally idiomatic, and he is occasionally prone to over-emphasis, Trekel is always a thoughtful interpreter, colouring his tone in response to, say, the languorous opening of ‘Phidylé’ and floating a beautiful, trancelike line in the Wagnerian nocturne ‘Extase’. Richard Wigmore