Please wait...

Hyperion Records

Click cover art to view larger version
Two Men Contemplating the Moon (c1819/20) by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Galerie Neue Meister, Dresden, Germany / © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67676
Recording details: October 2007
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2008
Total duration: 31 minutes 40 seconds

'In close collusion with the ever-sentient Julius Drake, Gerald Finley gives one of the most beautifully sung and intensely experienced performances on disc of Schumann's cycle of rapture, disillusion and tender regret … a glorious Schumann recital' (Gramophone)

'From the very start, the fingers of Julius Drake seem to be waking both Finley's baritone and the music itself from a long distant dream … this is a performance of a heavy and irreparably broken heart … Finley's performance gives huge pleasure and insight' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Gerald Finley's burnished baritone is one of the most beautiful voices to have recorded the cycle … a glorious Schumann recital from a singer and pianist in true, symbiotic partnership' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Drake's accompaniment, so important in the long, often ironic or restorative postludes to many of these songs, scarcely falters, and always sustains with senstivity Finley's bold and unaffected singing' (International Record Review)

'[Finley] is in his prime. He brings eloquence to the text and maturity to his interpretations … an outstanding disc' (The Sunday Times)

'Acclaimed baritone Gerald Finley is both intelligent and gripping, and sings with a tone that has never sounded more luxurious. With in-the-moment honesty, he brings passion, longing, terror, love and bitterness to his interpretations, without ever losing sight of his overall emotional journey. Accompanist Julius Drake partners him with a superb sense of drama and detail' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Finley wraps his handsome baritone round Schumann's lines in a way that takes you beyond the artistry to an inner emotional world … Finley and Drake take us on a journey that becomes more and more compelling with each song' (Financial Times)

'Dichterliebe itself receives a splendid performance and in this collection Finley has plenty of opportunity to display his expressive range. Thus his seamless legato is deployed in 'Im wunderschönen Monat Mai', where he's supported by some delightfully delicate playing on the part of Julius Drake. By contrast the breathless enthusiasm of 'Aus meinen Tränen spriessen' comes across convincingly. The song is over in a flash—but it's very well articulated. Wind forward to 'Ich grolle nicht' where Finley's voice has all the grandeur and amplitude you could wish for. Then immediately he lightens his voice most effectively for 'Und wüssten's die Blumen, die kleinen'' (MusicWeb International)

'The immaculately musical Canadian singer Gerald Finley never disappoints … it ranks among the best of recent versions out on disc, with flawlessly supporting playing from the pianist Julius Drake' (Hampstead and Highgate Express)

'Finley is an unforgettable communicator on a grand scale, as anyone who has seen him at one of his frequent Royal Opera appearances knows. But on this disc, he proves himself equally memorable in the more intimate arena of the Lieder recital. That his voice is luxuriously warm, even and smooth almost goes without saying … his in-the-moment honesty is matched note-for-note by pianist Julius Drake, who partners him with a superb sense of drama and detail. It's a recital which can stand comparison with the greatest Schumann recordings' (Metro)

Dichterliebe, Op 48
May 1840; published in 1844
author of text

Other recordings available for download
Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Schumann had already set a complete cycle from the Buch der Lieder – the nine Junge Leiden poems which made up the Liederkreis Op 24, composed in February 1840. He had also chosen poems from the Romanzen section, as well as Die Heimkehr. Only the Lyrisches Intermezzo remained to be conquered. Schumann had ventured only once into these pages (for two settings of Die Lotosblume), but by May 1840 he had decided to give his serious attention to a new cycle based on this sequence.

They had first appeared in print in another context: Tragödien nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo of 1823. The verse tragedies of the title were William Ratcliff and Almansor; these were placed on either side of seemingly autobiographical poems which traced the progress of an unhappy love affair. These highly personalized fragments (there are only three poems in the cycle in which there is no direct reference to the poet’s feelings) thus formed an ‘Intermezzo’ between two historical dramas. The title Lyrisches Intermezzo was retained even when the poems no longer fulfilled this function. The first poem (‘Im wunderschönen Monat Mai’) was added to the original sequence, almost certainly as late as 1827, for the publication of the Buch der Lieder.

Clara Wieck, and the struggle to win her hand in marriage, was Schumann’s inspiration in composing Dichterliebe. But endless paper and ink have been expended on the study of the feminine inspiration behind Heine’s lyrics. The great literary scholars of the late nineteenth century came to the conclusion that the Buch der Lieder was inspired by the poet’s love for not one, but two, of his cousins – daughters of his detested rich uncle Salomon: Amalie Heine (known as ‘Molly’) and Therese. There are bits and pieces of evidence supporting this conjecture (Heine’s love for Molly was real enough, but probably not long-lasting) but there are no documents which come anywhere near to explaining all the references and contradictions in the scenario of the Lyrisches Intermezzo outlined below. In his late memoirs the poet tells the story of his youthful love for redheaded Josefa, born into a family of executioners. Was this a redheaded herring on Heine’s part, or truthful? Like so much else about the earlier life of this enigmatic man, we shall never know.

The temptation to explain poems by connecting them directly to the poet’s relationship with women is something derived from Goethe scholarship where such matches are possible in many instances. This led scholars to assume that Heine’s poetry also arose from personal experience, but for the last fifty years this assumption has been discredited. Must we assume that the ‘I’ of the narrator’s voice is also the ‘I’ of the poet? In this case apparently not. Although there was a side to Heine himself which fostered the connection between his poetry and his life, at other times he debunked such theses. William Rose’s study of 1962 demonstrates that Heine could not possibly have written this poetry at the same time as he was allegedly enamoured with his cousins. The poet’s amorous adventures were more frequent (as were Schumann’s) than we shall ever know. Both men paid the price with venereal disease. To this extent there was a poisoning of the well of love; in Heine’s case there was also an ongoing difficulty in terms of his relationships with women until he found satisfaction of sorts in a marriage with a French woman who shared neither his intellect nor his interests. (The parallel with Goethe’s marriage is obvious.) Even if the poet constructed these lyrics from real memories, dreams and so on, it seems likely that the original female cast of characters was a large one, and it is this array which was probably reduced to the archetype of the faithless woman in the Buch der Lieder. Thus, although the earlier scholars ask us to believe in one, at the most two, beloveds (Amalie and Therese), Heine’s words and moods vary enough to suggest a broad range of emotional confrontations over a number of years. And this is apart from the distinct possibility that much of this work is derived from the poet’s fantasy and imagination.

Schumann could not have known these theories about Heine’s cousins. But his composer’s instincts would have told him that he had to reduce and focus the many and various impressions of the Lyrisches Intermezzo to make the listener believe in a Dichterliebe where the poet – his admired Heinrich Heine – could play the part of a hero, dignified even in grief. As the figure of the beloved appears in, and is met with, so many different moods in the poems, it would be best to keep her in the background, an elusive and mysterious figure in the poet’s memory.

The ‘story’ of Heine’s full sequence of poems (if it can be claimed there is a story at all) is a good deal more complicated than most Dichterliebe enthusiasts realise. In the following list there are no synopses given for the well-known texts of the song cycle itself (which in any case appear complete later in the commentaries). The purpose of this list is to illustrate how selective Schumann was in terms of shaping his own cycle where impressions and incidents arising out of the poet’s feelings of love and rejection were synthesised into a single masterly synopsis suitable for music.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2001

Other albums featuring this work
'Schumann: The Complete Songs' (CDS44441/50)
Schumann: The Complete Songs
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £38.50 CDS44441/50  10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 5 – Christopher Maltman' (CDJ33105)
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 5 – Christopher Maltman

   English   Français   Deutsch