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Schubert and Schumann
song cycles -
reviewed by
who also pays tribute to the late Eric Sams

'... tender and moving ...'

Schubert and Schumann Song Cycles. © 1973, 1974, 1994, 1995, 2004 EMI Records Ltd

After hearing fine pianists or cellists as a boy, I would rush home and practise as never before, convinced I could do equally well myself. Pure illusion. Reeling later from the dreariness of many a non-Beecham concert, I would take up my baton, brandish it initially in front of a mirror and then try it before choir or orchestra in the conviction I would make finer music than I had heard. Not total illusion. After listening to these two CDs, I have been warbling in the bath, knowing I must improve on what I've heard and become a major lieder singer. Not a hope.

The first notable interpreter of Schubert songs was Johann Michael Vogl, a baritone from the Court Opera all but thirty years his senior. Schubert went repeatedly to hear him as Orestes in Gluck's Iphigeneia in Tauris and longed to meet him. This was arranged, and Vogl was so taken with the young man's genius that within weeks he performed a group of songs including 'Erlkönig', 'Ganymed', 'Der Wanderer'. Later they holidayed together, and Vogl remained Schubert's most persistent advocate. Just before his death in 1840 aged 72, he gave a final performance of Die Winterreise.

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Copyright © 16 February 2005 Robert Anderson, Calcutta, India


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