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Franz Schubert – Lieder with Orchestra (von Otter) [2002]

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Franz Schubert – Lieder with Orchestra (von Otter) [2002]

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1. Romance from Rosamunde, D.797 No.3b : Der Vollmond strahlt
2. Die Forelle, D.550 (Op.32) - Orchestrated by Benjamin Britten
3. "Jäger, ruhe von der Jagd!" Ellens Gesang II, D.838 - Orchestrated by Johannes Brahms
4. Gretchen am Spinnrade, D.118 - Orchestrated by Max Reger
5. An Sylvia, D.891 (Op.106/4) - Orchestrated by Anonymus
6. Im Abendrot, D.799 - Orchestrated by Max Reger
7. Nacht und Träume, D.827 - Orchestrated by Max Reger
8. Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, D.583(Op.24/1) - Orchestrated by Max Reger
9. Erlkönig, D. 328 (Op.1) - Orchestrated by Hector Berlioz
10. Die junge Nonne, D.828 - Orchestrated by Franz Liszt
11. Die schöne Müllerin, D.795 - Orchestrated by Anton Webern - Tränenregen
12. Winterreise, D.911 - Orchestrated by Anton Webern - Der Wegweiser
13. Du bist die Ruh', D.776 (Op.59/3) - Orchestrated by Anton Webern
14. Schwanengesang, D.957 (Cycle) - Orchestrated by Anton Webern - Ihr Bild
15. Prometheus, D674 - Orchestrated by Max Reger
16. Memnon, D. 541 - Orchestrated by Johannes Brahms
17. An Schwager Kronos, D. 369 - Orchestrated by Johannes Brahms
18. An die Musik, D.547 (Op.88/4) - Orchestrated by Max Reger
19. Erlkönig, D. 328 (Op.1) - Orchestrated by Max Reger
20. Geheimes, D719 (Goethe) - Orchestrated by Johannes Brahms
21. Schwanengesang, D.957 (Cycle) - Orchestrated by Jacques Offenbach
Anne Sofie von Otter (Mezzo Soprano) Chamber Orchestra of Europe Claudio Abbado – conductor

 

This album received the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance.

Schubert himself orchestrated only one of these songs, the Romance from Rosamunde. The other arrangers are Berlioz, Brahms, Britten, Liszt, Offenbach, Reger and Webern: hardly an everyday list of ordinary hacks. Perhaps Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian and a few others, working in colour on drawings by Leonardo might provide a suggestion of something comparable. We would hope, in such a case, for almost contradictory features - respect for the original and evidence of something personal in the treatment. And certainly that is what we have here.

In Erikonig Berlioz relives that haunted ride of father and son to the inn with his imagination aglow, almost writing the opening of Die Walkiire in the process. Brahms so takes the dawn-devoted Memnon to his heart that Schubert's harmonies become an exquisite personal possession, the song set within an orchestral framework of the utmost loveliness. Britten in Die Fore//c keeps his eye on the fish, its lithe movements illuminated by the clarinet, lost to aural view in the muddy waters stirred up by the thievish angler.

Reger is the most frequent contributor and perhaps the least valuable; by his late-19thcentury lights he generally does a good job, something better perhaps in Nacht und Trisume, something (I would say) worse in Gretchen am Spinnrade. Webern, whose four arrangements date from 1903, is fascinating. The desolate heart of 'Der Wegweiser' is uncannily open to him; the deceptive reassurances of the lulling brook in 'Trnenregen', too.

It is a programme of a kind not often attempted on records - Hermann Prey did something similar in a disc for RCA around 25 years ago (11/77 - nla). It makes good sense to use two singers: Ellen, Gretchen and the young nun on the one hand, Prometheus and Memnon on the other, require this luxury. To have such artists as von Otter and Quasthoff with a conductor of Abbado's standing is a privilege indeed, particularly to be valued because it confers on these arrangements a recognition and status which on the whole are richly deserved. Von Otter sings with (to my mind) rather too much of her wide-eyed Children's Hour style, but she is never even momentarily inert or commonplace, and sometimes, as in Erlkönig and Gruppe aus dem Tartarus, with strikingly imaginative intensity. Quasthoff, too, is impressive in the 'big' songs, especially Prometheus and An Schwager Kra-nos. The orchestra, under Abbado, play with distinction - which is just as well, for in this of all song-recitals what they play is the prime centre of interest. --–John Steane, Gramophone

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