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Hyperion Records

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Grotto in the Gulf of Naples (1829) by Carl Blechen (1798-1840)
Image courtesy of the Art Renewal Center /
Track(s) taken from CDA67944
Recording details: May 2012
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: October 2012
Total duration: 26 minutes 59 seconds

'This new recording shows a greater richness in Finley's voice plus an evolving intimacy in his approach to recording Lieder … each song's overall conception—of which Julius Drake is a key part—reflects great thought as to its core emotion' (Gramophone)

'Julius Drake is perfectly attuned to the palette of shifting colours in Finley's dark baritone—here on top form' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Op 39's settings of Eichendorff deal in dislocation, nostalgia and threatening landscapes. Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake are well attuned to those pervading atmospheres and psychological shifts; beginning with the veiled tone with which Finley opens Op 39 every song is individually coloured … and the text is always clear' (The Guardian)

'This disc presents a very fine performance of both the Liederkreise. Gerald Finley … sings Schumann with perceptive musical intelligence and a keen sense of the subtlety with which the composer places the vocal line over and through his piano writing. Finley is admirably accompanied throughout by Julius Drake … this is a disc to be admired and praised for Finley's and Drake's moving truthfulness to each song in both the Liederkreise. This is astonishing music, exceptionally well performed' (International Record Review)

'Finley has carefully absorbed from his immortal predecessor the art of careful enunciation of every syllable in a natural but meaningful way … lovers of Schumann's Lieder and of great singing will not hesitate to plump for this stellar release; enthusiastically recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

Liederkreis, Op 39
1-20 May & 22 June 1840
author of text
from Viel Lärmen um nichts, Ahnung und Gegenwart, and Dichter und ihre Gesellen

Other recordings available for download
Kate Royal (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Margaret Price (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In early May 1840—the ‘wunderschöne Monat’ that also saw the creation of Dichterliebe—Schumann turned to the quintessential poet of German Romanticism, Joseph, Freiherr von Eichendorff (1788–1857), for another ‘song circle’. In a letter to Clara he called the twelve songs that make up the Liederkreis, Op 39 ‘my most romantic music ever, with much of you in it, dearest Clara’. Drawing variously on poems from Eichendorff’s stories Viel Lärmen um nichts (‘Much ado about nothing’) and Ahnung und Gegenwart (‘Present and Presentiment’), and his novel Dichter und ihre Gesellen (‘Poets and their companions’), these twelve vignettes are linked by recurrent, typically Eichendorffian themes—loss and loneliness, nocturnal mystery and menace, memory and antiquity, wistful reverie and rapturous soaring—and by thematic cross-references, usually veiled, occasionally explicit, as with the use of the same motif at the start of No 7 (‘Auf einer Burg’) and No 8 (‘In der Fremde’). With the Eichendorff Liederkreis Schumann virtually invented a new type of song: the romantic night-piece, serene, ecstatic or ominous.

The opening ‘In der Fremde’ is typical in its expression of estrangement and nostalgia amid a dark, woodland landscape. Schumann’s tune has a haunting pathos, discreetly heightened by its gently rippling arpeggio accompaniment. The German forest is at its most sinister in ‘Waldesgespräch’ (No 3), a variation on the Lorelei myth, with its dramatically timed moment of recognition and ironically echoing hunting-horns (dying away eerily in the piano postlude), and again in ‘Zwielicht’ (No 10). Here the keyboard part coils around the voice like a tortuous Bach three-part invention, with an oppressive chromaticism that threatens to dissolve familiar tonal outlines. ‘Auf einer Burg’ evokes a mysterious antiquity with its gloomy, incantatory vocal line, modal harmonies and solemn touches of canonic imitation. In the penultimate song, ‘Im Walde’, the wedding and the hunt, evoked as if through a gauze in Schumann’s music, suddenly fade, leaving only the sighing forest and the poet’s nameless fears amid the darkening inner and outer landscapes.

At the other end of the spectrum, ‘Intermezzo’ (No 2) is an increasingly impassioned avowal of love to Clara, growing from a falling five-note figure Schumann often associated with her. ‘Die Stille’ is a more secretive—and feminine—confession (the German title means both ‘stillness’ and ‘the silent girl’), with a sudden soaring at ‘Ich wünscht’, ich wär’ ein Vöglein’. ‘Schöne Fremde’ (No 6) and ‘Frühlingsnacht’(No 12), with its evanescent wisps of countermelody and triumphant final ‘sie ist Dein!’, are shimmering visions of physical and spiritual elation, while ‘Mondnacht’ (No 5) is perhaps the world’s loveliest vocal nocturne. Here Schumann magically delays the resolution on to the tonic chord until ‘Die Erde’ in bar ten, the moment of mystical-erotic union between sky and earth, Robert and Clara.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2012

Other albums featuring this work
'Schumann: Kerner Lieder & Liederkreis' (CDH55011)
Schumann: Kerner Lieder & Liederkreis
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55011  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'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. 10 – Kate Royal' (CDJ33110)
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 10 – Kate Royal
'Brahms & Schumann: Voices of the Night' (CDA66053)
Brahms & Schumann: Voices of the Night
'The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1' (HYP12)
The Essential Hyperion, Vol. 1
This album is not yet available for download HYP12  Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  

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