Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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Nachtviolen D752 [3'21]
Im Haine D738 Sonnenstrahlen [2'31]
'The most delightful and varied song recital I've come across all year' (The Guardian)» More
|Songs to Shakespeare|
'Grips the attention from beginning to end. Splendid stuff' (RAM Magazine)» More
Gmunden, 12 September 1825; Schubert to his brother Ferdinand:
We lunched at Herr Pauernfeind's, and in the afternoon, when the weather allowed us to go out, we climbed the Nonnberg, which is not high, but affords the finest views, for one overlooks the inner Salzburg valley from there. To describe to you the loveliness of that valley is almost impossible. Think of a garden several miles in extent, with countless castles and estates in it peeping through the trees; think of a river winding through it in manifold twists and turns; think of meadows and fields like so many carpets of the finest colours, then of the many roads tied round them like ribbons; and lastly avenues of enormous trees to walk in for hours, all enclosed by ranges of the highest mountains as far as the eye can reach, as though they were the guardians of this glorious valley; think of all this, and you will have a faint conception of its inexpressible beauty [so hast Du einen schwachen Begriff von seiner unaussprechlichen Schönheit].
Here we find the composer in unusually eloquent letter-writing mood; he is coming to the end of his holiday in Upper Austria in the company of the singer Johann Michael Vogl and he is liberated by his distance from Vienna and elated by what he sees. The observation of nature doubles as a deeply personal article of faith, for the paragraph quoted above is something of a compendium of Schubert's musical concerns. Thus the river is not only the subject of much of his music with watery themes, but it twists and turns as if in delightful modulations; it is enriched by multi-coloured harmony in the guise of fields of flowers; it is packaged into song garlands by ribboned pathways, and the whole is enclosed by the mountains of endless aspiration and discipline which seem to be the guardians not only of the valley, but also of Schubert's own precious gift. It is as if the composer is seeing in the panoply of this mighty garden a bird's eye view of the power of his own creative possibilities.
Schubert words 'think of a garden' are very revealing. He had to think of gardens and their contents a great deal (as we know from the subject matter of hundreds of songs mainly written in the big city) and he now had the opportunity to see the real thing on the grandest scale. It is perhaps hard to imagine the somewhat sedentary composer climbing mountains and walking for hours in tree-lined avenues (ambling with a pipe rather than striding with a stick would have been more his style) but there is no doubt that like his successors Brahms and Wolf, Schubert relished the chance of coming face to face with nature and found it a regenerative experience – indeed a vital source of inspiration for song composition.
The letter from the end of May 1826, written in Vienna, presents the composer in a more familiar urban light:
I am not working at all – The weather here is truly appalling, the Almighty seems to have forsaken us altogether, for the sun refuses to shine. It is May, and we cannot sit in any garden yet. Awful! Appalling! Ghastly! [Schrecklich! fürchterlich! entsetzlich] and the most cruel thing on earth for me.
Here is evidence that when the seasons seemed out of gear, the composer's compositional schedule was disturbed – he was not able to work. He was ill at the end of May, and it is clear that the cold and wet weather hindered both mind and body. It is also clear that sitting in the garden (almost certainly of an afternoon, or early evening) was an everyday pleasure which refreshed him and helped him to continue with the next morning's task. We have few clues as to whether Schubert was knowledgeable about flowers, trees, plants and so on, or whether, like the miller-boy he was 'ja auch kein Gärtner' – no gardener) but he was probably rather well informed about the natural world. Vienna in those days was a small city, the countryside within easy reach. From the following list (the first step towards a full concordance of the subject matter and imagery of Schubert's song) it is clear that in setting other men's poems to music, he daily came across images drawn from nature. Of course these words were not of his own creation so we cannot be sure that various tree and plant names evoked accurate and specific pictures in the composer's own mind. Nevertheless it seems likely that Schubert cared enough about the beauties of the fruits of the soil to be on familiar terms with a number of their manifestations. The purpose of this list is to show at a glance the parameters of the natural world (in terms of trees, flowers, fruit and other plants) in Schubert's everyday song-composing life, and within which he worked and moved as both composer and man. It is comforting and revealing that apart from a certain Germanic bias toward the vegetation of Nordic forest and Austrian mountain, the species of flower, tree and herb remain familiar and accessible to English-speaking Schubertians. In reference to such commonplace terms as 'blossoms', 'buds' and 'groves' (not to mention the excluded 'fields') this mini-concordance is necessarily selective; obviously much depends on how many verses of the longer strophic songs have been taken into consideration. Poets' names have been given only when there might be confusion between songs of the same title. In certain cases the flower imagery is essential to the sense of the poem; in many instances it is incidental and only passingly illustrative. But then the quietly growing lilies of the field have often been taken for granted, as was the composer himself in his own lifetime; Schubert was thought by his well-meaning friends to be vegetating when he was quietly spinning threads of gold to rival Solomon in his glory.
Graham Johnson © 1993
|Songs by Schubert's contemporaries|
'This enterprising, often revelatory set should intrigue and delight anyone interested in the development of the Lied' (Gramophone)
'Since making music with friends was Schubert's whole raison d'etre, this 3-CD box is an inspired idea … Led by the soprano Susan Gritton, ...» More
|Schubert: The Complete Songs|
'This would have been a massive project for even the biggest international label, but from a small independent … it is a miracle. An ideal Christ ...
'Please give me the complete Hyperion Schubert songs set – all 40 discs –and, in the next life, I promise I'll "re-gift" it to Schubert himself … ...» More
|Schubert: The Complete Song Texts|
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 1 – Janet Baker|
'Dame Janet is in glorious voice' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)
'One of the loveliest records even Dame Janet has made' (The Guardian)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 2 – Stephen Varcoe|
'A delightful collection of songs inspired by water' (The Guardian)
'Listen and marvel' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 3 – Ann Murray|
'This persuasive disc is faultlessly recorded' (Gramophone)
'We await more with enthusiasm and admiration' (American Record Guide)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 4 – Philip Langridge|
'Performed with wonderful artistry by Langridge and Johnson' (Gramophone)
'A constant joy' (Hi-Fi News)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 5 – Elizabeth Connell|
'Once more Graham Johnson puts us in his debt by his considered juxtaposition of apposite songs and by bringing to notice pieces, not to say masterpie ...
'A must for all Schubertians' (American Record Guide)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 6 – Anthony Rolfe Johnson|
'As exemplary as … other discs in this series, which is proving a many-splendored thing … this new offering seems packed with even more attr ...
'Rolfe Johnson's voice has never sounded more beautiful on disc' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 7 – Elly Ameling|
'An extraordinarily rewarding sequence of 24 songs' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)
'An exciting voyage of discovery' (The Guardian)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 8 – Sarah Walker|
'Walker, in probing, glowing form throughout, closes this long and profoundly satisfying recital with a hair-raising account of Erlkönig' (The ...
'This is distinguished singing indeed … Graham Johnson's unimpeachable choice of mood and the impeccable musicality and technique of his creative ...» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 9 – Arleen Auger|
'If you've been collecting the discs in the Hyperion series you'll know what to expect here; a really classy production and treasures waiting to be di ...
'The most delicious thus far in the series' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 10 – Martyn Hill|
'Hill's work here is inspired enough to place him in a line of tenor-interpreters of Schubert that leads from Erb and Patzak through Schreier to Rolfe ...
'This is quite the equal of its predecessors in this marvellous series' (Hi-Fi News)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 11 – Brigitte Fassbaender|
'Magnificent. Collectors of this series need not hesitate, and newcomers who try this volume are in serious danger of addiction' (American Record Guide)
'19 tracks devoted to some of the greatest songs ever written' (Classic CD)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 12 – Adrian Thompson|
'An established and thoughtful interpreter of Schubert, one who sings German like a native' (Gramophone)
'His keen insight and regard for the words illuminate these fascinating songs. Hard as it now is to find fresh words of praise for Graham Johnson's pe ...» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 13 – Marie McLaughlin|
'Word painting and nuances are stunning and the singing mischievously delicious. The personality of the singer simply leaps from the disc' (CDReview)
'Yet another splendid instalment … She sings these varied poems with rapt intensity, beauty of tone and deep insight into the predicament of Scot ...» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 14 – Thomas Hampson|
'The readings, with Johnson's piano at its probing best, are constantly enlightening and carry the absorbed listener into a rarefied world of word and ...
'Many of the songs here, as on all the discs, are masterpieces, and wonder and gratitude are unabated' (CDReview)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 15 – Margaret Price|
'Margaret Price has one of the most distinctive and attractive voices of any soprano before the public today and her contribution to the Hyperion Schu ...
'Exquisite' (Daily Mail)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 16 – Thomas Allen|
'This series is a long process of discovery, and there is plenty to discover here' (BBC Music Magazine)
'Thomas Alen is in commanding form, singing with unforced beauty of tone and intelligent, unobtrusive attention to the words' (Classic CD)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 17 – Lucia Popp|
'Piano-playing, notes and recording all enhance the virtues of this rewarding disc, which will surely be a thing of joy for many years to come' (Gramo ...
'A moving and fitting memorial to one of the loveliest and most beloved singers' (The Sunday Times)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 18 – Peter Schreier|
'An outstanding disc in a distinguished series' (BBC Music Magazine)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 20|
'Un superbe panorame des lieder de l'année 1815' (Créscendo, France)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 21 – Edith Mathis|
'What riches are to be found here in a recital that is, by any yardstick, a profoundly satisfying one … the musical marriage of the performers se ...
'A delectable group of 24 songs written in 1817/18, including a high proportion of charmers' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 22|
'Le niveau vocal et l'accompagnement de Graham Johnson sont toujours excellents' (Répertoire, France)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 23 – Christoph Prégardien|
'When the Hyperion Schubert Edition is finally completed I am certain that this wondrous offering will rank among its most precious jewels … Prég ...
'Prégardien is an artist of the first rank' (Fanfare, USA)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 24|
'The whole record is priceless … renewed praise … an engrossing and invaluable addition to this series' (Gramophone)
'La interpretación sigue la línea de excellencia de toda la colección, realizada en torno al magnifico musico que es el pianista Graham Johnson' (Sche ...» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 26 – Christine Schäfer, John Mark Ainsley & Richard Jackson|
'A wondrous addition to this unique venture, it is hard to know where to begin in its praise' (Gramophone)
'Superb. Schubert at his finest. An indispensable disc. An exciting and varied programme of wonderful music' (Classic CD)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 27 – Matthias Goerne|
'Another jewel in the Schubert Edition crown' (BBC Music Magazine)
'A most valuable addition to the series, one of the most important achievements in the history of recording' (Classic CD)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 28 – Maarten Koningsberger & John Mark Ainsley|
'There are unknown treasures here. Anyone who hasn't invested in this vast enterprise might well begin with this volume' (Classic CD)
'Irresistible listening' (Financial Times)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 29 – Marjana Lipovšek|
'One of the most rewarding CDs to date in this whole, comprehensive Lieder Edition. Utterly absorbing' (Gramophone)
'Lipovsek provides a feast of marvellous singing. She has one of the most beautiful mezzo voices around at the moment. A great addition to the series' ...» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 31 – Christine Brewer|
'Some fascinating discoveries' (Classic CD)
'An amazing disc in this matchless series – Unmissable' (Classical Express)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 32|
'As ever, illuminating words complement revelatory music-making' (BBC Music Magazine)
'Another triumph' (The Scotsman)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 33|
'Intriguing views of a young genius' (Classic CD)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 34|
'A feast of finely wrought, intelligent interpretations … the readings make an indelible impression.' (Gramophone)
'This disc is a must for any serious Schubert collector, its pleasures enhanced by Graham Johnson's observant accompaniments and his copious notes, da ...» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 35|
'Throughout the disc, Graham Johnson's accompaniments are typically illuminating with numerous touches of detail glossed over by many pianists. And, a ...
'Revelatory' (The Guardian)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 36 – Juliane Banse, Lynne Dawson, Michael Schade & Gerald Finley|
'Superb … Wonderfully fluent, confident singing from Finley, soft-grained intimacy from Banse … a delight' (Gramophone)
'Elegant performances' (BBC Music Magazine)» More
|Schubert: The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Vol. 37 – John Mark Ainsley, Anthony Rolfe Johnson & Michael Schade|
'Ainsley interprets his songs with the tonal beauty, fine-grained phrasing and care for words that are the hallmarks of his appreciable art … All ...
'A glorious conclusion to this magisterial edition … a magnificent project … one of the great achievements of recording history' (BBC Music ...» More