Schumann: Myrthen, Op. 25; Lieder und Gesänge, Op. 27; Die Löwenbraut, Op. 31/1

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Myrthen, Op. 25; Lieder und Gesänge, Op. 27; Die Löwenbraut, Op. 31/1
PERFORMER: Lynne Dawson (soprano)Ian Partridge (tenor)Julius Drake (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9307 DDD
From the gentle budding of Schumann’s Dichterliebe, through six Mendelssohn settings, and on to the dark night of Heine’s soul in Schubert’s Schwanengesang settings, Christoph Prégardien and Andreas Staier cast new, clear light on the relationship between poet and musician in their outstanding new disc. Prégardien’s tenor, acutely listening to the inflexion of every word, imaginatively recreates the individual sound-world of each song, be it elusive as a fragrance, or a-jangle with the anger of jealousy. The translucency of Staier’s fortepiano has a telling effect on the balance of resonance and the velocity of the songs: the glassy refraction of sound for the mirage-like start of ‘Die Stadt’ is a revelation indeed.

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Thomas Hampson’s Dichterliebe is something of a disappointment: uncharacteristically, there is too much of received wisdom here, too little fresh insight. The strength of the disc lies in its programming. A live recording from the 1993 Edinburgh Festival, it precedes the Schumann and Beethoven cycles with a lively selection from the Romantic German response to the Scottish muse, with spirited performances of Robert Franz’s ‘Die süsse Dirn’ von Inverness’ and Schumann’s ‘My heart’s in the Highlands’.

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More of Burns and Schumann on a new disc from Lynne Dawson and Ian Partridge who, vividly accompanied by Julius Drake, share the Highland songs between them in the context of the 26 songs from Myrthen. Dawson’s light-filled soprano is a particular pleasure, though Partridge’s English tenor tends to be both verbally and musically over-tentative in this repertoire. Hilary Finch