I made so many notes favourable to this issue that I find it hard now to know where to begin in its praise. Let me start with some general points: both these singers approach the songs with such a natural style of interpretation that it is as if they had just discovered the wonders contained within this ever-delightful book and are only too eager to convey them to their audience - absolutely nothing of artifice or over-refinement found on some noted versions. They also convey in their singing a consistency of thought that is matched to perfection by the playing of their superb pianist, Helmut Deutsch. Yet individually the singers' attributes are different: Upshaw's open sincerity is everywhere in evidence, ideally complementing Bar'sRead more greater sophistication and urbanity.
You can hear their skills wonderfully adumbrated in five successive songs in the middle of the recital. First Upshaw catches all the sadness of "Mir ward gesagt" to be answered by the softgrained, warm, impassioned outpouring of Bar in "Und wilist du deinen Liebsten sterben". Then comes the inward feeling of "Sterb' ich", so unerringly articulated by Bar, and the revelation of Upshaw's sense of humour in "Mein Liebster ist so klein". Finally, Bar's pure sense of legato in "Benedeit dir sel'ge Mutter" keenly contrasts with the right touch of irony in the middle section. From that you will have noted that the duo don't sing this collection in the printed order but one of Bar's own devising that makes eminent sense. Thus, for example, the railing songs are grouped together, the singers vying with each other in projecting scorn and anger.
Later Upshaw shows the variety of her skills by catching, quite without exaggeration, the pain of "Was soil der Zorn" and the cheeky teasing of "Nein, junger Herr", itself nicely answered by Bar's "Hoffartig seid Ihr". So much else needs remarking on - Bar's sense of wonder at beholding the loved one in "Heb' auf dein blondes Haupt", Upshaw's delicious languor in "Mein Liebster singt", for instance - but listeners will want to discover for themselves the many pleasures of this rewarding issue. They also include Deutsch's mastery in setting the scene with his subtly pointed preludes and in finding just the right pacing in the vital postludes.
Drawbacks? Upshaw's peculiarly clear, clean I Seefried's does not and Bar doesn't quite match tone just occasionally jars the ear in a way the range of colour or the many aperçus of FischerDieskau's unique art. But this is a new interpretation for a new generation and one surpassing the varied attributes of Bonney and Hageghrd and Lott and Schreier (though the Hyperion is the only version available featuring a tenor, and what a tenor!). This EMI disc is its own best advocate, well supported by a finely achieved recording.