Myrten, op.25: ‘Freisinn’, ‘Talismane’, ‘Aus den hebräischen Gesängen’, ‘Venetianisches Lieder’ I and II, ‘Aus den “Östlicken Rosen”’, ‘Zum Schluß’Liederkreis, op.39
Die Löwenbraut, op.31 no.1
Christian Gerhaher (baritone)
Gerold Huber (piano)
No surprises here in one sense: an excellent recital from start to finish. And yet, such excellence cannot but surprise at a deeper level. Christian Gerhaher has a well-nigh perfect combination of vocal beauty and verbal intelligence. His longstanding partnership with Gerold Huber is clearly a meeting of minds and sensibilities; indeed, there were times when I felt I was almost hearing a single musical voice as opposed to two partners.
Schumann makes a valiant effort with Die Löwenbraut, but I cannot account it one of his great songs. Nevertheless, the suavely prowling lion in the left-hand and the lingering coldness of the ‘letzten Kuß’ made their mark. The rest of the second half was devoted to the twelve Kerner songs of op.35. Especially notable earlier on were the Nazarene beauty of ‘Stirb, Lieb’ und Freud’!’ and the shining moon of the piano treble in ‘Auf das Trinkglas eines verstorbenen Freundes’, tinged with melancholy. Rock-solid rhythm ensured the resounding success of ‘Wanderung’, the piano part almost seeming generative of the poem itself, rather than vice versa. The ardent quality to the final stanza proved heart-stopping. ‘Stille Liebe’ was simply lieblich, and ‘Frage’, yes, questioned as it should. Gerhaher’s shaping of the vocal line in ‘Stille Tränen’ would have impressed deeply in a purely instrumental sense; married to his verbal acuity, it proved unforgettable. The closing ‘Alte Laute’ showed again the necessity of pain, every bar imbued with the sense of life slowly passing. ‘Und aus dem Traum, dem bangen. Weckt mich ein Engel nur.’ ‘Requiem’, op.90 no.7 offered an apt, duly moving encore.