Selected Lieder by Schubert performed by Florian Boesch and Malcolm Martineau

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Onyx
ALBUM TITLE: Schubert
WORKS: Lieder including Der Fischer, Der König in Thule, Der Zwerg, Im Frühling, Nachtviolen, An den Mond, An mein Herz, Frühlingsglaube, Heidenröslein, etc
PERFORMER: Florian Boesch (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ONYX 4149

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The light, textured baritone of Florian Boesch finds excellent employment in this Schubert collection, flawlessly accompanied by Malcolm Martineau, though the piano feels a shade backward in the recorded picture. The intimacy of the overall approach suits Boesch’s predominantly gentle instrument, whose only flaw is an occasional weakness at the bottom of the range (maybe the odd higher key might have helped). But from the first song, Der Fischer, onwards, the baritone demonstrates an acute consciousness of the text’s meaning in a rendition that is almost whispered.

His narrative skills prove outstanding in such examples as Der Zwerg and the lengthy Der Gott und die Bajadere, though a tendency to internalise emotions can suggest that he is singing to himself, as in Nachtviolen. At its best, his approach feels conversational (An den Mond), at its worst small-scale – despite his skilful storytelling (Heidenröslein). Undoubted successes are Boesch’s hearty Fischerweise (Martineau’s pianism particularly brilliant here) and his description of his flirtatious sweetheart in Geheimes, while both performers register the major-to-minor mood-swings of Lachen und Weinen. The two voices of Der Tod und das Mädchen are imaginatively drawn, the world-weariness of Am Tage aller Seelen finely captured, the longing for a happier past in ‘Erster Verlust’ vividly expressed.

Richard Stokes provides the expert liner notes, though the programme order was presumably finalised too late for them to follow it.

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George Hall