“Wanderer’s Nachtlied” = SCHUBERT Edition Vol. 8 – Matthias Goerne, bar./ Helmut Deutsch & Eric Schneider, p. – Harmonia mundi

“Wanderer’s Nachtlied” = SCHUBERT Edition Vol. 8 – Matthias Goerne, bar./ Helmut Deutsch & Eric Schneider, piano – Harmonia mundi HMC 902109 (2 CDs), TT: 2:10:30 ****:

Schubert was hardly the first one to devote so much energy to the lied; yet as time progressed many composers felt it a waste of time, as the music required was often declamatory in nature and used solely as a means of upholding the primacy of the text, which could often be more like a poetry recital than something integrated and truly musical. Schubert, who was born into the lied and died with it still on his lips, brought the form into an unbelievably sublime state, ignoring the confines of what had gone before, and translating the intricacies of the text into music so melodic and dramatic as to almost create a new art form. In Schubert’s hands poetry is not subjugated so much as transformed into something even more powerful and descriptive, and so adept was he at this bringing out of meaning that one has to wonder if names like Goethe and Seidl would carry half the weight and notoriety that they do today were it not for his “collaboration”.

Matthias Goerne has been most fortunate that HM has assigned him this Schubert series all to himself, and all the others until this one have been well-received in these pages. Volume 8 will prove no different though this edition is a rather dark one. If you like farewell, death, renunciation, loss, and the slow inexorable setting of the sun, then you will love this. And I am joking of course—not about the themes and tone of the album, but the fact that it is impossible to not be drawn into this mysterious and frail world of things that no one likes to think about today, but what the romantics dwelt upon in spades, probably in a more healthy manner than our own contemporary methodology when dealing with the inevitable.

Just listen to what Goerne, who is probably the best presenter of the emotional side of Schubert today, does with a simple song like the Litany on the first disc—hearing it you will think that music itself has peaked and there is no need to go on, for nothing better could possibly come along. The performances are that good, fully up to the previous volumes, and while the recording may not reach the exalted levels of the greatest ever set down on disc, at least volume by volume, when the whole thing is done it could well be one of the finest collections ever. All this and typical Harmonia mundi high production values with texts, translations, and fine notes.

Tracklist:

An die untergehende Sonne D 457
Der Tod und das Mädchen D 531
Die Rose D 745
Erinnerung (Totenopfer) D 101
Litanei D 343
Auf dem Wasser zu singen D 774
Abendbilder D 650
Nach einem Gewitter D 561
Der Zwerg D 771
Im Frühling D 882
Die Blumensprache D 519
Viola D 786
An die Entfernte D 765
Bei dir allein D 866/2
Ganymed D 544
Wanderers Nachtlied D 768
Schäfers Klagelied D 121
Heidenröslein D 257
Rastlose Liebe D 138
An den Mond D 259
Trost in Tränen D 120
Erster Verlust D 226
Der Musensohn D 764
Geheimes D 719
Versunken D 715
An Schwager Kronos D 369
Geisternähe D 100
Das war ich D 174
Das Rosenband D 280
Furcht der Geliebten D 285
An Sie D 288
Die Liebe hat gelogen D 751
Lachen und Weinen D 777
Dass sie hier gewesen D 775
Der Einsame D 800
Die Sterne D 684

—Steven Ritter

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