Schumann: Liederkreis, Op. 39; 12 Gedichte, Op. 35

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Liederkreis, Op. 39; 12 Gedichte, Op. 35
PERFORMER: Matthias Goerne (baritone), Eric Schneider (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 460 797-2
The Op.39 Eichendorff ‘Liederkreis’ is justly famous. Much less familiar in toto, though it belongs to Schumann’s same miraculous song year of 1840, is the cycle to poems by the mystical writer Justinus Kerner, Op.39. Two of its songs, however – ‘Wanderlied’ and ‘Erstes Gr¸n’ – have become popular enough for the standard edition of Schumann’s Lieder to print them out of context in a different volume from the remainder, thus blatantly disregarding the inherent continuity of what Schumann called a ‘Liederreihe’ (song sequence).

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To hear this great music performed by so prodigiously gifted a singer as Matthias Goerner is a rare treat indeed. His is a voice of wonderful warmth, and he uses it with considerable subtlety. He sustains the long vocal lines of such songs as Eichendorff’s ‘Mondnacht’ or Kerner’s ‘Stille Liebe’ with admirable eloquence, and finds just the right tone for the expressive intimacy of the Op.39 songs. If only Goerner’s pianist were as accomplished. As it is, Eric Schneider’s playing is adequate, but rather plain: in his hands the ending of the melancholy ‘In der Ferne’, for instance, is curiously emphatic; while the irony of the sound of horns fading into the distance at the close of ‘Waldesgespr‰ch’, as the hapless hunter is ensnared by the sorceress Lorelei, is an effect that entirely eludes him. Goerner’s erstwhile teacher Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau has a much more subtle partner in Christoph Eschenbach on his beautifully-sung 1975 recording of Op.39. Goerner has recording projects with Alfred Brendel – now there’s an exciting prospect! Meanwhile, the present disc will do very nicely. Misha Donat