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Briefly Noted: Padmore's HIP Dichterliebe

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Schumann, Dichterliebe / Liederkreis, op. 24, M. Padmore, K. Bezuidenhout

(released on November 9, 2010)
HMU 907521 | 68'53"
Three versions of Schumann's Dichterliebe have long been my favorites: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Alfred Brendel (best combination of singer and pianist, albeit with the songs transposed down from their original keys), Fritz Wunderlich and Hubert Giesen (overall most beautiful voice, in the original keys), and Ian Bostridge and Julius Drake (odd and otherworldly, restoring the four songs Schumann cut from the cycle). After not thinking much at first of this new version of Dichterliebe, by English tenor Mark Padmore, it has grown on me quite a bit. Padmore's voice is a light tenor, sweet at the top but not airy and strange like Bostridge (and his German not nearly as good as the linguist Bostridge), and we have admired his Handel and Dowland. Strange that this Schumann should grow on me, since I was one of the few who did not care at all for Padmore's Schubert recordings with Paul Lewis on modern piano. The difference here is that Padmore partners with Dutch fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout, who plays on an 1837 Erard piano. The instrument is presumably fairly close to the Erard that was so prized by the Schumanns, replacing Clara's Graf piano, which she bestowed on Johannes Brahms. The sound it makes, more like a modern piano than the earlier fortepianos, is quite mellow and pretty, suiting Padmore's voice beautifully. Bezuidenhout can make such delicate sounds in the soft songs, although it is hard not to miss the boom of the modern piano's bass in the louder ones. In terms of interpretation choices, this is still not my favorite Dichterliebe, but the op. 24 Liederkreis is much easier on the ears, and the inclusion of five songs from the op. 33 Sängerfahrt by Franz Paul Lachner (1803-1890) -- also using the texts by Heinrich Heine -- is a pleasant bonus discovery.

1 comment:

MWnyc said...

One small correction, Charles: Kristian Bezuidenhout is South African-Australian.

Born in South Africa, raised in Australia, trained there and in the US (at Eastman), he now lives in London. The only Wikipedia entry I can find for him (Dutch) describes him as an Australian pianist.