Notes and Editorial Reviews
Zueignung. Die Nacht. Wintersnacht. Mein Herz is stumm, mein Herz ist kalt. Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann. Ruhe, meine Seele! Heimliche Aufforderung. Morgen! Traum durch die Dämmerung. Sehnsucht. Das Rosenband. Befreit. Notturno. Freundliche Vision. Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland. Vom Künftigen Alter. Und dann nicht mehr. Im Sonnenschein
Thomas Hampson (bar); Wolfram Rieger (pn)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 479 2943 (70:17
Text and Translation)
This may be one of the finest recordings in the extensive discography of Thomas Hampson, and anyone with even a passing interest in Strauss’s songs should consider adding this to their collection, no matter what other treasures might already be there. This is different from them all in many ways.
Chief among them is
, the song that gives the disc its title. This is a remarkable work, really a tone poem. Strauss actually wrote it for voice and orchestra, but it works in the piano version as well, especially with the violin obbligato played beautifully here by Daniel Hope. This 13-minute setting of a poem by Richard Dehmel explores a dream about death (represented by the violin), and is an astonishing, harmonically adventurous (for 1899) work, and one that has not been recorded very often in either form. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recorded it in this piano version, and Marc Mandel reviewed in
21:1 an orchestral recording by Linda Finnie and Neeme Järvi. Mandel was not as taken with the piece as I am, at least based on this remarkably coherent, focused performance.
Hampson, throughout this disc, never engages in mere singing. Everything is about using his voice to communicate text and emotion, to convey all that is beneath the surface. This could imply fussiness, but in fact the naturalness of musical flow is what distinguishes these performances, along with imaginative vocal coloration and dynamic shading. Between the softest
, Hampson seems to have an almost infinite number of gradations. His voice can ring heroically, turn hollow with despair or anguish, or become smooth with tenderness. His diction is stunningly clear, so that this is never about just making lovely musical sounds, but about communicating words as much as music. Hampson applies a specificity of inflection that is very special, and makes each song its own unique portrait. And the voice itself is in glorious shape: resonant, full-bodied, with a real center to the tone.
A good part of the success of this recording is due to Wolfram Rieger’s imaginative work at the piano. Clearly he and Hampson have worked these songs out thoroughly, for they perform as one, clearly listening to each other and playing off each other. Very natural recorded sound that is perfectly balanced, and lovely notes by Hampson, round out the production. One quibble: There is a brief trumpet call at the end of
Die heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland
, very well played, that is credited nowhere in the booklet or jewel box. DG even credits the piano tuner in the booklet, but not the poor trumpeter. But if that is the only thing I can find to which to object; clearly this is a success. It has been a long time since a Lieder recording of this quality has crossed my desk, and it is urgently and unreservedly recommended.
FANFARE: Henry Fogel
Works on This Recording
Im Sonnenschein, Op. 87 no 4 by Richard Strauss
Thomas Hampson (Baritone),
Wolfram Rieger (Piano)
Written: 1935; Germany
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