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Schumann 200th Anniversary - Lieder, Scenes From Goethe's Faust


Release Date: 06/29/2010 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 09022   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf BärGeoffrey ParsonsDame Janet BakerDaniel Barenboim,   ... 
Conductor:  Bernhard Klee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Düsseldorf Städtischer Musikvereins ChorusDüsseldorf Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 6 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This set can be warmly recommended to anyone wanting to explore this utterly essential corner of Schumann’s output.

As part of the Schumann anniversary EMI Classics’ Lieder set collects together the essential Schumann songs in performances that are in every case respectable and in some are most valuable. You also get the substantial bonus of the Faust scenes making this an economical and reliable way of building your Schumann library.

Our companion for many of the lieder is baritone Olaf Bär. One of the most experienced of modern lieder singers, he is the natural choice to guide us through most of the great cycles. His light, very beautiful voice is ideal for playing the fragile lover or the
Read more poet who is a slave to sensibility. His acting is marvellous too, inflecting every word with meaning. He lacks some of the necessary vocal darkness, though; meaning that some of the melancholy passages in Dichterliebe escape him, especially when comparing him with recent exponents such as Simon Keenlyside who darkens not only the words but also his vocal tone so as to bring the songs alive in a whole new way. Throughout, he is more successful in the more optimistic songs (such as the jollier sections of the Kernerlieder) and where a sense of tenderness is required he is very much your man – just listen to Mondnacht in the Op. 39 Liederkreis, ineffably lovely from both pianist and singer. The nature painting, particularly of the Rhine scenes, is also very effective and the final song of the Op. 24 Liederkreis carries a fitting sense of culmination. In some cases, however, the voice comes across as monochromatic and lacking in variety, so that great cycles like the Kernerlieder, while containing wonderful moments, are as a whole underwhelming, and the final pair of songs in this cycle, in particular, need more insight and conviction than Bär gives them here.

That said, I would gladly spend a very long time in the company of Bär’s voice and there are places in the set where he really thrives, not least in the third disc where he is probably at his best. The Geibel songs are full of Romantic colour and the “Painter” songs Op. 36 are refreshingly upbeat and sunny, so Bär is in his element. Furthermore each of the ballads (the majority of this disc) is very successful, Bär relishing the chance to tell every story and bring each character to life, though there are some very dark moments which work well because of the predominant optimism.

Bär is joined by Juliane Banse for the fourth disc, most of which is taken up with Myrten, Schumann’s wedding gift to Clara. This is a glorious cycle, containing examples of all that is great in Schumann: scene-painting, glorious Romantic longing and ineffable loss in turn. Banse proves a most effective partner for Bär, complementing his voice beautifully and she is at her finest in the wonderful stillness of Die Lotusblume. They even join forces for a couple of duets in the Rückert songs, each of which is a remarkable jewel. This cycle, no doubt due to the poet, is much more thoughtful than those before and in some songs, such as Rose, Meer und Sonne the piano part is surprisingly expansive. Flügel! on the other hand, seems to have a split personality with its buoyant opening and deeply thoughtful second half. This cycle is well worth exploring, not least because three of the songs are actually written by Clara.

The section of women’s songs on Disc 2 is very well chosen and, in fact, one of the set’s highlights. The benefits of Janet Baker in Frauenliebe are predictable and she does not disappoint. She brings searching intensity to this intimate exploration of female love, and the desolation of the final song is complete. She also varies the texture beautifully so that the cycle is not just about cloying sentimentality but is meditative and thoughtful as well. If anything, however, it is the contribution of pianist Daniel Barenboim that lifts this performance into the golden league. He elevates the piano line above the level of mere accompaniment so that it is every bit as probing as the vocal part, and the final moments, when the piano recalls the melody of the opening song, are heartbreaking.

Brigitte Fassbaender brings similar intensity to her songs. Her richly coloured mezzo is perfect for the melancholy Songs of Mary Stuart, bringing intensity and darkness to these brief gems. Her selection of four songs that precedes this is even finer, however: Der schwere Abend, in particular, conjures a universe of doom that I found really quite creepy and most affecting. In utter contrast, it is great to have a skittish, ever-characterful contribution from Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, sounding light and humorous in Die Kartenlegerin.

One of the set’s greatest treasures is saved for almost the very end. The Spanisches Liebeslieder is for four singers and two pianists and it is a delight. These performances were recorded live over two evenings at the 1994 Edinburgh Festival and the chemistry and sparkle of a live performance is all over them. There may be very little about them that is Spanish but the singers sound wonderful, be it individually, in duet or as a quartet: this was my favourite discovery in the whole set.

The Faust scenes, the only large-scale work here, are a tricky act to pull off as there is no connecting narrative and all we get are snapshots of Goethe’s great narrative. Furthermore, most listeners who have heard Mahler’s setting of the same text in his Eighth Symphony will find Schumann’s take on the final scene rather prissy and tame. The work remains interesting on its own terms, though. Fischer-Dieskau is rather too gentlemanly as Faust himself, but Edith Mathis has the required innocence for Gretchen and Walter Berry is convincing as the “Evil Spirit”, though less so as Mephistopheles. Nicolai Gedda’s bright, almost gaudy tenor is right for the role of the Sunrise spirit, and the other quartet of spirits are alluring while remaining suitably unpleasant. Orchestra and Chorus are good, with the Tolz Boys Choir standing out well in the texture. However most collectors will probably get more from the overt theatrics of the recent version from Harnoncourt and the Concertgebouw on RCO Live which has good singing and the zing of a live performance, even if Harnoncourt’s way with the orchestra remains very much his own.

In summary, this set can be warmly recommended to anyone wanting to explore this utterly essential corner of Schumann’s output. It’s particularly good if you’re a beginner, as it acts as a compendium of Schumann’s greatest achievements in song in performances that are at least dependable and often much more, though you’ll need a separate version of Dichterliebe and the Kernerlieder. It’s at budget price and full texts and translations are included as a PDF on the final disc. Your only reason to hesitate might be that Hyperion have just released their complete Schumann song series at super-budget price: it’s slightly more expensive than this set – though still a tremendous bargain – but it’s more complete and you may well find that the overall quality of the performances is significantly higher.

-- Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Liederkreis, Op. 39 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Geoffrey Parsons (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
2.
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Geoffrey Parsons (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
3.
Liederkreis, Op. 24 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Geoffrey Parsons (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
4.
Gedichte (12), Op. 35 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Geoffrey Parsons (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
5.
Frauenliebe und Leben, Op. 42 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano), Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
6.
Gesänge (3), Op. 31: no 2, Die Kartenlegerin by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Geoffrey Parsons (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
7.
Romances and Ballades iv, Op. 64: no 3, Tragödie by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Germany 
8.
Lieder und Gesänge iii, Op. 77: no 5, Aufträge by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
9.
Gedichte (7), Op. 90: no 6, Der schwere Abend by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
10.
Gedichte (5) der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Brigitte Fassbaender (Mezzo Soprano), Erik Werba (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1852; Germany 
11.
Gedichte (3), Op. 30 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
12.
Gedichte (6), Op. 36 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
13.
Romances and Ballades i, Op. 45 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
14.
Romances and Ballades ii, Op. 49 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
15.
Romances and Ballades iii, Op. 53 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
16.
Lieder (5), Op. 40 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
17.
Myrthen, Op. 25 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano), Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
18.
Gedichte (12) aus "Liebesfrühling", Op. 37 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Olaf Bär (Baritone), Helmut Deutsch (Piano), Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
19.
Scenes from Goethe's Faust by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Kari Lövaas (Soprano), Edith Mathis (Soprano), Walter Berry (Bass Baritone),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Norma Sharp (Soprano), Barbara Daniels (Soprano),
Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Ilse Gramatzki (Mezzo Soprano), Harald Stamm (Bass),
Hanna Schwarz (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Bernhard Klee
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Düsseldorf Städtischer Musikvereins Chorus,  Düsseldorf Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844-1853; Germany 
20.
Spanische Liebeslieder (10), Op. 138 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Barbara Bonney (Soprano), Kurt Streit (Tenor), Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano),
Olaf Bär (Baritone), Bengt Forsberg (Piano), Helmut Deutsch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
21.
Lieder und Gesänge (5), Op. 127: no 2, Dein Angesicht by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Wolfgang Sawallisch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
22.
Gesänge (4), Op. 142: no 2, Lehn deine Wang by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Wolfgang Sawallisch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
23.
Lieder und Gesänge (5), Op. 127: no 3, Es leuchtet meine Liebe by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Wolfgang Sawallisch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
24.
Gesänge (4), Op. 142: no 4, Mein Wagen rollet langsam by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Wolfgang Sawallisch (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 

Sound Samples

Liederkreis Op. 39: In der Fremde
Liederkreis Op. 39: Intermezzo
Liederkreis Op. 39: Waldesgespräch
Liederkreis Op. 39: Die Stille
Liederkreis Op. 39: Mondnacht
Liederkreis Op. 39: Schöne Fremde
Liederkreis Op. 39: Auf einer Burg
Liederkreis Op. 39: In der Fremde
Liederkreis Op. 39: Wehmut
Liederkreis Op. 39: Zwielicht
Liederkreis Op. 39: Im Walde
Liederkreis Op. 39: Frühlingsnacht
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Im wundersschönen Monat Mai
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Aus meinen Tränen spriessen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Wenn ich in deine Augen seh
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Ich will meine Seele tauchen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Ich grolle nicht
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Und wüssten's die Blumen, die kleinen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Das ist ein Flöten und Geigen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Hör ist das Liedchen klingen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Ein Jüngling liebt ein Mädchen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Ich hab im Traum geweinet
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Allnächtlich im Traume
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Aus alten Märchen
Dichterliebe Op. 48: Die alten, bösen Lieder
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 1, Morgens steh' ich auf und frage
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 2, Es treibt mich hin
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 3, Ich wandelte unter den Bäumen
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 4, Lieb' Liebchen, leg's Händchen
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 5, Schöne Wiege meiner Leiden
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 6, Warte, warte, wilder Schiffmann
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 7, Berg und Burgen schau'n herunter
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 8, Anfange wollt' ich fast verzagen
Liederkreis Op. 24: No. 9, Mit Myrten und Rosen
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Lust der Sturmnacht
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Stirb, Lieb und Freud!
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Wanderlied
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Erstes Grün
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Sehnsucht nach der Waldgegend
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Auf das Trinkglas eines verstorbene Freundes
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Wanderung
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Stille Liebe
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Frage
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Stille Tränen
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Wer machte dich so krank?
12 Gedichte Op. 35: Alte Laute
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Seit ich ihn gesehen
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Er, der Herrlichste von allen
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Ich kann's nicht fassen, nicht glauben
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Du Ring an meinem Finger
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Helft mir, ihr Schwestern
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Süsser Freund, du blickest
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust
Frauenliebe und -leben Op. 42 (1995 Digital Remaster): Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan
3 Gesänge Op. 31 (1990 Digital Remaster): Die Kartenlegerin
Tragödie II op.64 Nr.3 - "Es fiel ein Reif in der Frühlingsnacht" (2005 Digital Remaster)
Aufträge op.77 Nr.5 - "Nicht so schnelle, nicht so schnelle" (2005 Digital Remaster)
Der schwere Abend op.90 Nr.6 - "Die dunklen Wolken hingen" (2005 Digital Remaster)
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart op.135 Nr.1-5 (2005 Digital Remaster): Nr.1 Abschied von Frankreich - "Ich zieh dahin, dahin!"
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart op.135 Nr.1-5 (2005 Digital Remaster): Nr.2 Nach der Geburt ihres Sohnes - "Herr Jesu Christ, den sie gekrönt mit Dornen"
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart op.135 Nr.1-5 (2005 Digital Remaster): Nr.3 An die Königin Elisabeth - "Nur ein Gedanke, der mich freut und quält"
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart op.135 Nr.1-5 (2005 Digital Remaster): Nr.4 Abschied von der welt - "Was nützt die mir noch zugemessne Zeit?"
Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart op.135 Nr.1-5 (2005 Digital Remaster): Nr.5 Gebet - "O Gott, mein Gebieter, ich hoffe auf dich!"

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