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ABSOLUTELY IDIOMATIC

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'... his expressiveness is faultless.'

Schumann's Dichterliebe and other Heine settings -
with PETER DALE

 

With this volume, Maltman and Johnson scale one of the peaks of the art of lieder: Dichterliebe. Previous mountaineers include some of the greatest voices in recorded history, but the summit is not crowded yet. Schumann's music is more than spacious enough to allow of newcomers, as indeed of second thoughts (as in the case of Fischer-Dieskau's two very different classic recordings). The relatively young Maltman's voice already sounds absolutely idiomatic in this extraordinary music where the lyrical, bitter-sweet texts of the young Heine meet with the astonishingly expressive intelligence of the young Schumann, but both of them with a wisdom that defies the essentially youthful and volatile in their emotions.

The Songs of Robert Schumann - 5 (c) 2001 Hyperion Records Ltd

Maltman effortlessly masters the technical challenges. He uses his voice entirely in the service of the music without any of the narcissisistic lingerings upon its particular local colours which mar so many lieder recitals now. In any case, Schumann doesn't require great extremes in variety of moods -- that is both his strength and one of his weaknesses perhaps -- but shades of nuance along the way make all the difference. Perhaps Maltman has yet to perfect this in the longer, larger narrative songs [listen -- track 14, 2:34 -- 2:51], but generally speaking his expressiveness is faultless. Listen here, for example in Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen, to the way his tone reflects one of Heine's characteristically poignant last lines [listen -- track 32, 0:48 -- 1:38], and, indeed, to Graham Johnson's marvellous playing of the coda -- an index of the deepest understanding between composer, singer and accompanist, and not the least of the intense satisfactions of this disc.

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Copyright © 8 April 2001 Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK

 

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