Schwanengesang (Krause, Gage)

Schubert: Schwanengesang. Tom Krause/ Irwin Gage DECCA


This Schwanengesang adds the Rellstab Herbst (D945) as an extra season to the so-called cycle. It has many other attractions. The piano is always fluent and often eloquent, though Liebesbotschaft needs rather more polish to make the silver sparkle as prescribed by the poet, and the emphatic lone-piano beats of the “stolzes Herz in Der Atlas sound to me like the sort of attack that the heart could do without. The voice is vibrant and virile, with a word-wedded warmth worthy of Kipnis, or even Hotter. Rut there are countervailing uncertainties of pronunciation (“rauchen” for “rauschen” suggests the wrong sort of leaf), vocabulary (“geträumt for “geruht” in Kriegers Ahnung, note values (“Kahn” is a beat too long in Die Stadt) and even actual notes “Ihr” in bar 36 of Abschied. Some of the tempos are dubious; and the ensemble occasionally sounds more apart than a partnership should. Perhaps the two have not been together quite long enough to be together quite often enough. There are also a few slight disparities of dynamic; thus at the final wheedling “beglücke mich” of an otherwise admirably seductive Ständchen the sigh in the voice is partly covered by the pianist's right hand, which is not etiquette.

    Such points are not mere punctilio: they delimit different levels of lieder-singing. This disc might have been outstanding, as we can hear from the Heine songs. Those strange masterpieces range front apathy to agony; and they can very easily sound either dull or hysterical. Their performance here is well-balanced and effective. But no more than that: because although singer and pianist each know their business better than most, the minutiae of their joint meeting can hardly be agreed as a correct and permanent record. With a little rephrasing and one or two textual amendments (a reliable edition would help) their reading could more readily be accepted.


The Musical Times, Nov. 1973 (p. 1132) © the estate of eric sams