Notes and Editorial Reviews
Liederalbum für die Jugend,
Lieder und Gesänge I,
Sibylla Rubens (sop); Stefanie Irányi (mez); Thomas Bauer (bar);
Uta Hielscher (pn)
NAXOS 8.557076 (58:04)
The two works presented here make a good pairing. Schumann’s aim in the
Liederalbum für die Jugend
was to make available a set of songs that young performers could use to improve their technique, application of textual inferences, and the like. The problem is that Schumann pitches the music at a level that is too advanced for the total beginner, and too basic for the professional singer to keep it in their repertoire. The
does contain some progression from more simplistic fare to incorporating more complex texts by poets such as Goethe.
The standard of performance is very high indeed, with all three singers giving committed contributions. Sibylla Rubens’s purity of tone works well in its own right to aid directness of expression, but also complements the natural richness found in Stefanie Irányi’s mezzo during duo passages. Irányi, a mezzo I had heard of but not actually heard in performance before this disc, is a singer I would like to hear more of due to her interpretive skills also. Thomas Bauer’s ascendancy through the ranks of notable baritones continues as a result of this disc, which follows his strong performances on Naxos’s two previous Schumann Lieder releases. Uta Hielscher projects the accompaniments throughout clearly and without affectation.
Lieder und Gesänge I
is a short cycle of five songs sung exclusively by Thomas Bauer. They make an attractive filler item on this disc, and offer further proof of his great sensitivity to the written text in particular.
Hyperion offers alternative readings of both works, but not as a coupling. The
is given by Felicity Lott and Ann Murray, accompanied by Graham Johnson. Their account sees the songs interspersed with piano pieces from
Klavieralbum für die Jugend
rather than the presenting the songs straight. Hyperion’s
Lieder und Gesänge I
features the sensitive German-Swiss soprano Juliane Banse, also accompanied by Johnson. There are few reasons that would make me choose Hyperion over Naxos in either case in terms of performance quality, particularly if price is a factor also. Naxos’s sound quality, although not of demonstration standard, is better than it sometimes can be.
The usual quibbles about the downloading of texts from the Naxos Web site and storage of resultant printouts apply. Some may want a more generously filled disc, but if you don’t get quantity, you certainly do get quality.
FANFARE: Evan Dickerson