Schumann: Myrthen

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: HMC
WORKS: Myrthen, Op. 25 – Six Lieder; Liederkreis, Op. 39; Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135; Lieder nach Gedichten von Friedrich Rückert
PERFORMER: Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Anthony Spiri (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 902031

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Bernarda Fink’s light, fresh-voiced mezzo is ideally cast in Schumann’s early, ardent Myrthen songs: here she chooses six settings of Robert Burns, bringing gentle pathos to their lyrics and their lullabies. Here, as throughout the recital, her every phrase is illumined and delicately coloured by the fine-tuned accompanying of Anthony Spiri. 

There’s a natural geographical if not spiritual link to Schumann’s great, late Maria Stuart songs. Here, Fink darkens her voice for their valedictory sombreness, yet her light, tremulous vibrato is minutely sensitive to their fragile and fearful emotional life. The lightest breath of a sigh carries the word ‘Ade!’ out into the unknown.

Not only the individual performances, but also the shaping of this entire recital commends it. Next come ten of Schumann’s settings of Friedrich Rückert, in which Fink captures delightfully the composer’s heartfelt love for the inner music of this poetry, in all its fragrant and rapt ardour.

This enticing programme ends with a delicately inflected performance of the Op. 39 Liederkreis. Both Fink and Spiri recreate the elusive half-lights and scents of these Eichendorff settings, with every vocal turn and ornament clear and poised, every nuance of rhythm and dynamic seemingly instinctively achieved.

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From its imaginative picture research to the perfectly balanced and engineered recording, this is a very special and clearly lovingly produced disc – one to cherish. Hilary Finch