Notes and Editorial Reviews
Maximilian Schmitt (ten); Gerold Huber (pn)
OEHMS OC 819 (56: 47
The Schumann anniversary of last year continues apace, with another
, this one from Maximilian Schmitt and Gerold Huber. What unites all the songs on this disc is their poet,
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,
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
, 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
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
There is pleasure to be had from this recording, and that is enough recommendation. I recently quite liked baritone Florian Boesch’s reading of
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
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
Works on This Recording
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 by Robert Schumann
Gerold Huber (Piano),
Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor)
Written: 1840; Germany
Liederkreis, Op. 24 by Robert Schumann
Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor),
Gerold Huber (Piano)
Written: 1840; Germany
Lorelei, Op. 53 no 2 by Clara Wieck Schumann
Maximilian Schmidt (Tenor),
Gerold Huber (Piano)
Written: 1843; Germany
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 1. Im wunderschonen Monat Mai
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 2. Aus meinen Tranen spriessen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 3. Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, die Sonne
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 4. Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 5. Ich will meine Seele tauchen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 6. Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 7. Ich grolle nicht
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 8. Und wussten's die Blumen, die kleinen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 9. Das ist ein Floten und Geigen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 10. Hor' ich das Liedchen klingen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 11. Ein Jungling liebt ein Madchen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 12. Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 13. Ich hab' im Traum geweinet
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 14. Allnachtlich im Traume
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 15. Aus alten Marchen winkt es
Dichterliebe, Op. 48 (text by H. Heine): No. 16. Die alten, bosen Lieder
6 Lieder, Op. 13 (text by H. Heine): No. 2. Sie liebten sich beide
6 Lieder, Op. 13 (text by H. Heine): No. 1. Ich stand in dunkeln Traumen
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 1. Morgens steh' ich auf und frage
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 2. Es treibt mich hin, es treibt mich her!
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 3. Ich wandelte unter den Baumen
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 4. Lieb' Liebchen, leg's Handchen auf's Herze mein
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 5. Schone Wiege meiner Leiden
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 6. Warte, warte, wilder Schiffmann
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 7. Berg' und Burgen schaun herunter
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 8. Anfangs wollt ich fast verzagen
Liederkreis, Op. 24: No. 9. Mit Myrten und Rosen, lieblich und hold
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