This CD contains a wonderful selection of songs by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schubert.
Barbara Bonney is one of my favorite singers. It seems like her voice and interpretation are particularly custom-made for Schubert’s masterpieces. A whole lot of factors come together here:
Ms Bonney speaks German; her pronunciation is flawless. Her musical feeling, phrasing, balance with the accompanying piano, and overall lyrical performance are very satisfying.
Many of these songs are well-known. Some are down-right “war-horses”. As such, an artist has to approach these with the challenge to bring something new, something special, to Lieder that the public has heard so often. In my view, Ms. Bonney accomplishes these objectives in an amazing fashion. I have three favorites, all composed by Schubert:
- Die Forelle (the Trout; used by Schubert again in his Piano Quintet)
- Gretchen Am Spinnrade
- Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (with Clarinet, solo)
The challenge in the Trout, is to have the singer create the sense of turmoil, worry and impending danger, as the poor little trout gets closer to the fisherman’s hook. And yes… if you listen, you can hear the music getting darker, and Ms. Bonney’s voice lamenting the impending disaster.
In Gretchen, we hear about lost love. Here, too, the composer recalls the magic of the kiss from past memories. And how beautifully the music creates the sounds of the spinning wheel that is turning, while these old memories return…
The Sheepherder (Hirt, in German) is sitting on a large rock. He is filled with memories of his Love. One hears his song echoing across the vast expanse of Nature. And what utterly amazing music Schubert gives us!
The clarinet is used as an additional instrument beyond the usual piano, and this instrument is given a prominent and satisfying role in this performance. While the above are my own favorites, you have all the other Lieder to choose from, while you decide on your own.
Here is Ms Bonney, singing “Die Forelle”