Lichte und Liebe = SCHUBERT: Der Tanz D. 826; Die Unterscheidung Op. 95/1, D. 866; Die Geselligkeit (Lebenslust) D.609; Lieder der Delphine D. 857/1; Der Sänger 117, D. 149; Der Hochzeitsbraten D. 930; Licht und Liebe D. 352; Des Tages Weihe D. 763; Gott im Ungewitter D. 985; Die Allmacht D. 852; Hymne an den Unendlichen D. 232; Begräbnislied D. 168; Gebet D. 815 – Marlis Petersen (sop.)/ Anke Vondung (mezzo-sop.)/ Werner Güra (tenor)/ Konrad Jarnot (bass)/ Christoph Berner, fortepiano – Harmonia mundi HMC 902130, 65:21 ****:

Schubert snobs often dismiss this type of music, and even more often are at pains to explain its significance. As the well-written booklet notes tell us, there is a tendency to separate the brooding, Winterreise-obsessed melancholic genius with the party-loving wine-filled soiree-rat who went slumming with friends in order to forget the fact that life was so horrible! Nonsense!

These people—and I must confess, myself as well at times—tend to forget how gamut-run these works on this disc are as representative of a genre that not only was part and parcel of the era Schubert lived in, but as well experienced an elevating of its significance by the mere fact of the existence of these jewels. It is true that the things we think we find in his “serious” works are in fact there—no one with ears could deny this—but it is also true that the serious works are often colored by the profound movements which overshadow the fact of the “lighter” ones. Schubert loved to instill the musical vox populi into his art, and he was just as able to uncannily supply pieces like his vocal duets, trios, and quartets with a modicum—and sometimes even more than that—injection of high art.

Listening to these works, really the first time I have done so in many years, at least as rigorously as I did here, opens up a whole new world of delights and wonders at how well this high art is incorporated into music that spans the gamut of emotions, poetry, subject matter, and complexity. The experience is a grand one indeed; the seduction level is quite elevated if you give it a chance, and with performances as brilliant as these there is simply no way you can come away from this hour of wonders without being at least a little enthralled with this music. Most people will be much more than that.

—Steven Ritter