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I Stroll In The Daytime While Dreaming

Schumann,R. / Schumann,C. / Schmitt / Huber
Release Date: 02/22/2011 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 819  
Composer:  Robert SchumannClara Wieck Schumann
Performer:  Gerold HuberMaximilian Schmidt
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUMANN Dichterliebe. Liederkreis. C. SCHUMANN 3 Songs Maximilian Schmitt (ten); Gerold Huber (pn) OEHMS OC 819 (56: 47 & German ony)

The Schumann anniversary of last year continues apace, with another Dichterliebe , this one from Maximilian Schmitt and Gerold Huber. What unites all the songs on this disc is their poet, Read more Heinrich Heine, one of Schumann’s favorites.

Schmitt is a young German tenor whose careeer is mostly on the stage, with the usual excursions into oratorio and early music. He has a light, well-focused voice with a slightly different quality when he reaches for the top, and his words are eminently clear. With this, his first Lied recording, he enters heavily traveled territory.

As a cycle, Dichterliebe is remarkable in many ways, not least in that its poetic complexities increase as it moves on and the songs get longer and the role of the piano gets even more integrated into the narrative: Schumann frequently lets the accompaniment finish the musical argument, as in no. 12, “Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen,” for instance. This technique culminates in that extended final postlude, which mitigates the dark conclusion of the text, which wants to resonate in our memory.

Schmitt and Huber negotiate the shoals of this cycle fairly well. The songs are well sung, but they tend to remain songs rather than a cycle. I wish he had not tried the optional high A to G in “Ich grolle nicht,” but it is a temptation few have the will to resist—Schumann was right, I think, not to have written it in the first place, not because it it diffcult to sing but because it radically changes the temper of the poem and the cycle when one does so. Huber is a good accompanist, and he uses an unnamed but simply wonderful instrument, evenly voiced and clear throughout.

Between the two Robert Schumann sets come three songs to Heine texts by Clara Schumann, “Sie liebten sich beide,” “Ich stand in dunklen Träumen,” and “Lorelei.” How different they sound from Dichterliebe , with their fuller harmonic accompaniment. They reside in a different part of the musical house and make a good contrast to the following set.

The earlier of the two Liederkreise is full of surprises and interesting turns that demand a great deal of interpretive flexibility on the part of singer and pianist. Though a generally upbeat group of songs, joy and sadness each play off against one another. Schmitt sounds much more at ease here than in the Dichterliebe.

There is pleasure to be had from this recording, and that is enough recommendation. I recently quite liked baritone Florian Boesch’s reading of Liederkreis on Onyx, and I remain impressed by Matthias Goerne’s and Vladimir Ashkenazy’s recording of both of these sets on Decca.

FANFARE: Alan Swanson

It is not unusual that professional singers start out as choirboys, and for Maximilian Schmitt it was the world renowned Regensburger Domspatzen. After studies in Berlin he became a member of the Young Ensemble at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and during that time he also made his debut at the Salzburg Landestheater as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. At present he is engaged at the Nationaltheater Mannheim to sing further Mozart roles as well as David in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Lenski in Eugene Onegin. He is also a much sought after concert singer and gives solo recitals with Gerold Huber. His recordings include Haydn’s The Creation under René Jacobs and Bach’s St Matthew Passion under Riccardo Chailly. The Sunday Times, reviewing The Creation, thought he was one of the finest Uriels since Fritz Wunderlich.
To open his debut recital disc with Dichterliebe may be risky, since collectors and critics will inevitably make comparisons with all the greats- for instance Fritz Wunderlich and Peter Schreier and dozens of other famous tenors. Leaving comparisons aside one can note that Schmitt is a lyrical tenor, like Wunderlich and Schreier. His is a basically beautiful and flexible voice but in the long run tends to be rather monotonous. He is very good at grading nuances from pianissimo up to forte but the colour of the voice is inflexible. I don’t know whether the Dichterliebe songs were recorded in the order they are presented on the disc but it seems that the first few songs are rather pallid and uninspired, while there is more life in the second half of the cycle. He is best in the more dramatic songs and maybe Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome and Ich grolle nicht (trs. 6 and 7) was a turning-point. Later on Hör’ ich das Liedchen klingen (tr. 10) and Allnächtlich im Traume (tr. 14) are deeply felt, and he rounds off the cycle with a full-throated Die alten, bösen Lieder. Here, though, as in other songs where he uses his full lung-power, he tends to shout, which mars the reading as a whole.
Of the three songs by Clara Schumann the dramatic Lorelei makes the greatest impression.
Liederkreis Op. 24 is less often heard than Op. 39 and that’s probably the reason why the individual songs are not so well known. Mit Myrten und Rosen is, I believe, performed out of context and it is no doubt one of Schumann’s very finest songs. Maximilian Schmitt is however inspired throughout the cycle, in Warte, warte, wilder Schiffmann (tr. 25) maybe excessively so. Gone is the pallid quality of the opening songs of Dichterliebe, and the enthusiasm is tangible without actually seeing the singer’s facial expressions. That’s promising. I won’t pretend that this disc will replace Schreier or Fischer-Dieskau or Roman Trekel. Both Schreier (Orfeo) and Trekel (also Oehms) ) couple Dichterliebe and Liederkreis Op. 24, Schreier being one step ahead by also including Liederkreis Op 39.
Without being a top contender Maximilian Schmitt makes quite a good stab at the songs and it is to be hoped he will come back with something even better.
-- Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Dichterliebe, Op. 48 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Gerold Huber (Piano), Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Liederkreis, Op. 24 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor), Gerold Huber (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Germany 
Lieder (6), Op. 13: no 2, Sie liebten sich Beide by Clara Wieck Schumann
Performer:  Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor), Gerold Huber (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842-1843; Germany 
Lorelei, Op. 53 no 2 by Clara Wieck Schumann
Performer:  Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor), Gerold Huber (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Germany 
Lieder (6), Op. 13: no 1, Ich stand in dunkeln Träumen "Ihr Bildnis" by Clara Wieck Schumann
Performer:  Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor), Gerold Huber (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 

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