Schumann, Schubert, Wolf & Mozart

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert,Schumann,Wolf & Mozart
LABELS: Elektra Nonesuch
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Goethe Lieder
WORKS: Songs by Schumann, Schubert, Wolf & Mozart
PERFORMER: Dawn Upshaw (soprano)Richard Goode (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79317-2 DDD
In this non-chronological recital, Upshaw and Goode give a diverse and satisfying programme of Goethe settings. They include several from West-östlicher Divan and Wilhelm Meister, ending with the earliest song, Mozart’s only Goethe setting, ‘Das Veilchen’. Schumann’s ‘Liebeslied’, which opens the recital, already reveals hints of the reservations I have about Upshaw’s performance: her interpretative use of (occasionally scooping) portamento, over-zealously applied and, I think, distracting in this repertoire; and her lapses in German pronunciation. However within the Schumann group her dramatic pleading and exquisite phrasing of ‘Heiss’ mich nicht reden’ and the lustrous warmth of her unique sound, which scorches through ‘Mignon’, leave no doubts as to the quality of her voice and her intense musicality. Schubert’s ‘Ganymed’ is beautifully paced and demonstrates the true partnership that exists between Upshaw and Goode, who skilfully gauge the balance of tempo and dynamics in these songs. Other examples of their exceptional teamwork which deserve special mention are the Schumann and Schubert settings of ‘Wanderers Nachtlied’, the gentle momentum of Schubert’s ‘An den Mond’, the sumptuous swirling lines of voice and piano weaving through his ‘Suleika I’ and the captivating delivery of the Wolf settings, ‘Die Spröde’ and ‘Die Bekehrte’. Elise McDougall