Echoes and re-echoes
with BASIL RAMSEY
We musicians have a risky habit of assuming knowledge of a composer's
range of music when in reality we probably know a few favourites, and those
rather sketchily. Schubert's music has, I fancy, suffered this indignity
more than most in the face of such an output.
Put that theory to the test with Schubert's partsongs, of which this
selection has a humbling effect. To soothe the savage breast make a start
with Nachthelle, which sails over a Schubertian repeated chord accompaniment
played as gossamer. The other ten can be taken at will and in any order
to resurrect feelings of sheer gratitude that such a composer lived and
handled basically simple material with faultless grace and beauty. There's
no lack of variety: Nachtgesang im Walde with echoing and re-echoing
horns, Gesang der Geister uber den Wassern luxuriously poised over
the dark colours of lower strings, the unaccompanied songs, and those where
Schubert wedded voices to piano textures so effortlessly.
Thankfully, the performers here are of the best. The RIAS Kammerchor
under Marcus Creed bears the brunt with exceptional ensemble and unanimity
of tone; and solo singers and instrumental groups play their part impeccably.
Pianist Philip Mayers exploits his palette of colour to perfection. For
me, this is a record of delight, allowing a composer's voice to be sensed
and savoured without hindrance. Despite the outpouring of CDs these days,
quality like this remains a rare feast.
Birgit Remmer, alto|
Werner Güra, tenor
Philip Mayers, piano
RIAS Chamber Choir
directed by Marcus Creed
harmonia mundi HMC 901669
THIS CD FROM CROTCHET
Copyright © Basil Ramsey, 15 February
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