Florian Boesch - Schumann & Mahler: Lieder - American Record Guide

The two major works of this program—Schumann's Liederkreis, Op. 39 and Mahler's Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen—both tell stories of the romantic wandered unhappy in love and feeling alienated. In between are the three Harper songs of Schumann's Lieder und Gesänge aus Wilhelm Meister.

Schumann's setting of 12 Eichendorff poems present contrasting moos and atmospheres—fear and joy, light and darkness, dread and rapture, exhilaration and tranquility—but joy seems to triumph at the end.

By contrast the Harper songs offer nothing but bleakness as expressed in the Harper's furious condemnation of the 'Heavenly Powers' that lead innocents into guilt and then abandon them to lifelong misery", as Susan Youens comments in the liner notes.

Mahler's songs presents a journey of one thwarted in love, whose bitterness gives way to healing under a linden tree.

These performances are terrific, especially the Mahler. Boesch is always dependable as an excellent singing storyteller with superb vocal gifts of exquisite phrasing, skilful use of dynamics, immaculate diction, and varied vocal colouring. The ever-reliable Martineau is magnificent here and almost makes you wonder why Mahler bothered to orchestrate the songs. The accompaniment snaps at the beginning of Mahler's 'Wenn Mein Schatz Hochzeit Macht' and conveys the rhythmic anxiety that underscores the songs. The rhythmical flexibility makes their performance expressive without losing the flow of the line. With such a stunning job here I hope that the two will record more Mahler, particularly the Rückert Lieder.

Susan Youen's always informative notes are a plus. Texts and translations are supplied. The recording quality is excellent.

American Record Guide
01 November 2018