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Frans Schubert – Schiller-Lieder

Wolfgang Holzmair and Gerard Wyss


Tudor Musique oblige – 7134

Recorded 2005 – 74.48 minutes


Die Burgschaft D246

Die vier Weltalter D391

Gruppe aus dem Tartarus D583

Hektors Abschied D312

Dithyrambe D801

Die Gotter Griechenlands D677

An den Fruhling D587

Der Pilgrim D794

Die Entzuckung an Laura D390

Die Hoffnung D637

Das Geheimnis D793

Der Alpenjager D588

Der Jungling am Bache D301

Der Fluchtling D402

Sehnsucht D636



Here we have two leading exponents of the art of Lieder giving us a generous selection of Schubert's setting of poems by Friedrich von Schiller.


Produced in Zurich for a German speaking public, the accompanying booklet contains full texts but no translations; only a brief commentary is provided in English. Obviously space must be a factor, but at least to have translated the titles of the pieces would surely have been possible.


Schubert turned to Schiller's poetry time and again throughout his life, in all making almost 50 settings and repeating favourites. Poetry accounts for only a fraction of Schiller's output; he was also a dramatist, classicist and historian and these interests are reflected in his poems.


The CD begins with “Der Burgschaft” (The Hostage) a dramatic ballad which in Schubert's hands becomes virtually an opera in miniature. Here particularly a translation is called for, and the notes are not enlightening. It tells of a journey beset by fearful problems - flood, ambush, exhaustion – the traveller knowing his friend is held hostage and will be executed if he fails to meet his deadline. Schubert mirrors every twist in the story, yet the song retains an overall uniformity of structure. It is skilfully presented, every word is clear and each nuance of emotion revealed.


The recital continues with a further five songs on historical or classical subjects, and then turns to more bucolic matters, and a sequence of a further 9 songs. Schubert's complete mastery in depicting landscape in music, is apparent throughout, and they are a joy to listen to. My own favourite is “Der Alpenjager” full of variety – first a dialogue between a protective mother and her child who is determined to go into the mountains, followed by a change of mood and a lively account of his pursuit of a gazelle.


The performances are as good as one would expect from artists of this calibre, and the recording is exceptionally clear with perfect balance between voice and piano. Recommended.


Serena Fenwick


Sir Thomas Allen and Graham Johnson


The Hyperion Schubert Edition Volume 16

Recorded 1992 – 77.44 minutes


Leichenfantasie D7

Laura am Klavier D 388

Die Entzuckung an Laura D390

Die Entzuckung an Laura D577

An die Freude D189

An Emma D113

Das Madchen aus der Frende D117

Das Geheimnis D793

Die Burgschaft D246

Der Jungling am Bache D638

Die vier Weltater D391

Sehnsucht D52

Der Pilgrim D794



The issue of the new Hyperion complete Schubert Songs, now re-arranged in order of composition and reviewed on this website, provided the prompt to re-visit a volume from the original issue and, having recently also considered a recital by Wolfgang Holzmair devoted to the Schubert's Schiller Lieder, Thomas Allen's compilation of Schiller-Lieder seemed an obvious choice for comparison. (In fact, Schubert's settings of Schiller's poems are so numerous that there is little overlap between these discs.)


The first thing that stands out with the Hyperion offering, is the quality and detail of the accompanying booklet, containing not only the full text and translation of the songs, but also Graham Johnson's informative notes and commentary. Then of course there is Thomas Allen's singing. Although it is noticeable that he is not a native German speaker, his wonderfully honeyed tone and total immersion in the meaning of the text more than compensate – when he sings of Laura's silvery notes, we hear the silver reflected in his own voice. The selection is well chosen and makes a satisfying hour or so of listening.


The notes tell us that “the programme is arranged more or less in the chronological order of the composition of the poems”. For the fourth poem Die Entzuckung an Laura we are provided with two settings by Schubert, which immediately triggered me to think that I would perhaps like to hear the songs in the order of composition – which is of course where the new collection comes in . . .


So, for the serious Schubert devotee the new collection is obviously a “must”, but there are also good reasons for acquiring or keeping at least a proportion of the original volumes.


© Serena Fenwick