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Beethoven: An die ferne Geliebte / Schubert: Schwanengesang

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
It's easy to understand why pianist Alfred Brendel would be eager to collaborate with baritone Matthias Goerne in vocal works by Beethoven and Schubert, composers with whom Brendel has been deeply engaged for decades. Not only is Goerne's voice exceptionally warm and beautiful, but his style of interpretation shares much with Brendel's own, probing the emotional depth of the music without verging toward mannerism or excessive melodrama. Together -- and Brendel clearly is a true collaborator here, not a subordinate accompanist -- the two musicians are conduits for the music's expression rather than calling attention to their own performances, and this approach pays ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Scott Paulin
It's easy to understand why pianist Alfred Brendel would be eager to collaborate with baritone Matthias Goerne in vocal works by Beethoven and Schubert, composers with whom Brendel has been deeply engaged for decades. Not only is Goerne's voice exceptionally warm and beautiful, but his style of interpretation shares much with Brendel's own, probing the emotional depth of the music without verging toward mannerism or excessive melodrama. Together -- and Brendel clearly is a true collaborator here, not a subordinate accompanist -- the two musicians are conduits for the music's expression rather than calling attention to their own performances, and this approach pays dividends in the two works heard here. Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte is a forerunner of the romantic song cycle genre later developed by Schubert. Goerne's singing here is subtle and touching; most awe-inspiring is his ability to sustain a melody on a barely audible thread of sound, as if to literally represent the distance between protagonist and beloved. As rewarding as this cycle is, it feels something like an upbeat to Schubert's weightier Schwanengesang, with its broader extremes of emotion. Schubert did not conceive these songs as a cycle -- his publisher assembled them posthumously, as the composer's "Swan Song," using settings of three different poets -- and the performers here take the liberty of inserting a separate late song "Herbst" into the first half; they also relegate "Die Taubenpost" to an encore. Goerne is at his best with the forceful drama of "Aufenthalt," the bleakness of "Atlas," and any opportunity to dip into the powerful lower range of his voice, while Brendel marvelously conveys the originality of Schubert's piano writing in songs like "Die Stadt." Recorded live at London's Wigmore Hall in November 2003, this disc is a superb document of Goerne and Brendel's partnership, and a strong recommendation for this coupling of works.
All Music Guide - Allen Schrott
This program of German lieder was assembled from live performances in London's Wigmore Hall on November 5 and 7, 2003. The cross-generational pairing of 30-something baritone Matthias Goerne and 70-something pianist Alfred Brendel -- a no-frills modern voice and an old-school Romantic -- forms an interesting parallel with the program: Beethoven's "An die ferne Geliebte" To the Distant Beloved, the earliest notable German Romantic song cycle; and Franz Schubert's "Schwanengesang" Swan Song, the last song cycle by the composer who brought the form into its full maturity. Indeed it is a program of contrasts. "An die ferne Geliebte" is so integrated that no one of its six songs can be satisfactorily excerpted, while "Schwanengesang" is a frankensteinian admixture of musically and poetically contrasting scraps assembled only after the composer's death. Meanwhile, Brendel plays as if he wants to "do" something with every phrase -- to shape it, caress it, move it along, or slow it down; but Goerne doesn't do things that way, instead preferring a straightforward execution that sometimes borders on mechanical. The result is a performance that often has no clear intentions, and no apparent expressive vision. The most notable aspects of this recording are Goerne's vocal consistency, indistinguishable in live performance from his work in the studio, and the inclusion of "Herbst, D. 945 Autumn" as an extra song in "Schwanengesang." Schubert may very well have intended to group "Herbst" with the other Ludwig Rellstab poems that were eventually published as the first half of "Schwanengesang," but even if that isn't the case, "Herbst" fits in perfectly with those robust, tuneful settings, and it is a charming song in its own right. The live sound is very clean, and unusually warm for a recital recording in a large space.
Gramophone
[July 2005 CD of the Month] The Beethoven cycle...is performed with remarkable sensitivity to the numerous changes of tone and texture, singer and pianist extracting every nuance from the music and words. The Schubert quasi-cycle Schwanengesang, too, receives a masterly performance.

[July 2005 CD of the Month] The Beethoven cycle...is performed with remarkable sensitivity to the numerous changes of tone and texture, singer and pianist extracting every nuance from the music and words. The Schubert quasi-cycle Schwanengesang, too, receives a masterly performance.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/10/2005
  • Label: Decca
  • UPC: 028947560111
  • Catalog Number: 000420102
  • Sales rank: 252,641

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Applause - Recorded Sound & Dominic Fyfe (0:08)
  2. 2–7 An die ferne Geliebte, song cycle for voice & piano, Op. 98 - Ludwig van Beethoven & Alfred Brendel (14:01)
  3. 3 Applause - Recorded Sound & Dominic Fyfe (0:15)
  4. 4 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. Liebesbotschaft - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (3:09)
  5. 5 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. Kriegers Ahnung - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (4:46)
  6. 6 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. Frühlingssehnsucht - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (3:18)
  7. 7 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. Ständchen - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (3:46)
  8. 8 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. Aufenthalt - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (2:50)
  9. 9 Herbst ("Es rauschen die Winde"), song for voice & piano, D. 945 - Franz Schubert & Friedel Becker (3:58)
  10. 10 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. In der Ferne - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (5:55)
  11. 11 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Rellstab-Lieder. Abschied - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (4:29)
  12. 12 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Heine-Lieder. Der Atlas - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (2:11)
  13. 13 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Heine-Lieder. Ihr Bild - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (3:25)
  14. 14 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Heine-Lieder. Das Fischermädchen - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (2:13)
  15. 15 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Heine-Lieder. Die Stadt - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (3:11)
  16. 16 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Heine-Lieder. Am Meer - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (4:44)
  17. 17 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Heine-Lieder. Der Doppelgänger - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (4:26)
  18. 18 Applause - Recorded Sound & Dominic Fyfe (0:30)
  19. 19 Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957: Seidl-Lied. Die Taubenpost - Franz Schubert & Alfred Brendel (4:17)
  20. 20 Applause - Recorded Sound & Dominic Fyfe (0:28)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Matthias Goerne Primary Artist
Alfred Brendel Primary Artist
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