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Schumann Songs complete, accompanied by Graham Johnson

Hyperion LC 7533

This delectable if daunting 10-disc boxed collection is, in its way, as valuable and indispensible as Graham Johnson's monumental complete Schubert.

The thick booklet has a detailed biography of Schumann's life, year by year, but for detailed analyses of the individual songs you'd have to go to the original releases; e.g. see Classical Source for a review of the last of the Ten Volumes, where Richard Nicholson has an important caveat: - - an invaluable enterprise. The background of, and analysis of each song in the accompanying booklet is a work of art, but the print is so small that I am sure even those with more youthful eyes than mine must find it a strain to read. I hope the notes that go with each release can be collected into a book.

Pending that proposal's realisation, Johnson's analyses are freely available (at print size of your choice !) on Hyperion's website, which is fine; e.g Vol 6 at

So this combined release, with numerous leading singers before the public in the last decade or so, is a good purchase choice, even though you may not have time to go through all the songs with Johnson as your guide straightaway... It is available at bargain prices, c. £44 from Amazon.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Schumann & Lachnerbez


Dichterliebe; Liederkreis Op.24

Lachner Im Mai; Die Meerfrau; Das Fischermädchen; Ein Traumbild; Die einsame Träne

Mark Padmore tenor & Kristian Bezuidenhout fortepiano

Harmonia Mundi HMU 907521

A different take on Schumann for his bicentenary, a fine disc which allows you to hear how his songs might have sounded in his own time and soon afterwards. Kristian Bezuidenhout, one of the finest of today's specialist fortepianists, partners Mark Padmore on a 1837 Erard from the important collection of Edwin Beunk in Holland. Also, they put Schumann the composer in historical context by including a group of songs by Franz Paul Lachner (1803-1890) a far from negligible contemporary of Schumann's.

Impeccable performances by a well attuned duo, their rapport confirmed at Wigmore Hall this week in a similar programme, reviewed at musicalpointers/liveevents10/ and now available to hear for a week on BBCR3 iListen Again.

The performances, recording and production are impeccable, with full texts and translations of course. You'll need this CD alongside Johnson's; it may not be too long before Steinways begin to seem anachronistic for 19 C music?

The photo above is a still from Kristian Bezuidenhout's masterclass at Holland Festival (in English) - enjoy on a Youtube video.