Notes and Editorial Reviews
"Hearing a familiar work in an unfamiliar tongueóin this case, Norwegianóredirects the focus of the listener. Rather than hearing in detail the usual marriage of word and note, oneís attention is turned more acutely to the general dramatic sweep of the music itself, the phrasing, the style, and the disposition of the singer. In this case it is a fortuitous experience, as the singer has a very pleasing voice, spins very graceful phrases, and makes one believe what he is saying. His vocal style is slightly reminiscent of early music, perhaps of a gamba adroitly bowed by an upward hand, producing a sweet slender intimate and expressive tone. Unlike many fashionable artists, Håvard Stensvold does not exaggerate the nuances of a
phrase, but modestly shapes them in a way that one guesses the sweet, modest Schubert would have appreciated. When the music is challenging technically, as in the awkward passages of Irrlicht, or the top fortes in Die Post, one could wish for a little more flexibility in the one, a little less strain in the other, but Stensvold is expressive, and in the final analysis sings well, often very well. One might wish also that he only sang, avoiding declamatory snarls and growls in the bitter, angry, and sarcastic phrases. There are too many such phrases for snarls and growls to remain effective, and the listener finds himself falling in and out of belief, hearing now a protagonist, now a performer. In earlier recordings, recordings closer to the source, one finds that singers such as Karl Erb (Historical Recordings) or Franz Navál (Symposium), who was born only 37 years after Schubertís death, sang, and only sang. They didnít declaim, they didnít paint words, they didnít snarl, they didnít growl. This present recording, however, is still a success largely due to the artistís rare ability to convey innocence and simplicity while observing all the subtle nuances demanded in the score. This is no small or easy matter, involving intuition, intelligence, talent, technical control, and, most likely, a personal depth of character. To my mind, only a few prominent singers possess this ability, but it is absolutely necessary for the ideal execution of Schubertís music.
The accompanist contributes much to the recordingís success as well. His beautiful tone in Fruühlingstraum, with its carefully molded dramatic shifts, casts a wonderful spell. His introductions are evocative, and his sense of tempo, reflecting the travelerís moods and physical condition, are well defined and convincing."
-- Raymond Beegle, Fanfare
Works on This Recording
Winterreise, D 911/Op. 89 by Franz Schubert
Havard Stensvold (Baritone),
Tor Espen Aspaas (Piano)
Written: 1827; Vienna, Austria
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