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Christopher Maltman (baritone) Graham Johnson (piano)

Schumann, his Poets and Contemporaries:
songs to poems by Goethe

Wigmore Hall, 23 April 2006

This was a great Sunday afternoon recital, not recorded for broadcasting, so perhaps we can hope for a CD of a programme which suited Christopher Maltman's robust baritone to a tee?

Schumann's settings were compared and contrasted with some of the same poems in groups by Wolf and Loewe, sometimes to the latter's clear advantage, e.g. the night watchman in Lynceus der Thürmer, which is reckoned one of the finest of all Lieder.

Maltman was not afraid to illustrate his more dramatic songs and ballads with appropriate gesture, Loewe's Sorcerer's Apprentice as compelling a cautionary tale as Dukas's or Disney's, and finishing the printed programme with a winning account of Wolf's setting of Der Rattenfänger, who lured all the children. Maltman's tone never overwhelmed the intimate venue, but on the other hand Graham Johnson was able to play uninhibitedly with the lid wide open.

In more reflective songs Maltman scaled down his tone, holding the audience in rapt silence, and Wolf's Anakreons Grab was the ideal single encore.

On second thoughts, this recital, which had all the hallmarks of Graham Johnson's thematic programming, would engage a wider audience on DVD, and that possibility should be seriously considered by Maltman and an enterprising record company.

© Peter Grahame Woolf