Hilary Finch
BBC Music Magazine
July 2015

It was 'return to sender' as far as poor Schubert's settings of his poetry were concerned; but Goethe warmed to his Czech contemporary, Václav Jan Křtitel Tomášek, declaring that this Mignon songs showed true understanding of his poetry. Tomášek's Kennst du das Land—praised highly by Goethe—is not alas, included in a nonetheless generous and revelatory recital of his Lieder, which includes 15 of his 41 Goethe settings.

This is a rare opportunity to judge for yourself if Tomášek is indeed unjustly neglected. This setting of Mailied hasn't quite the spontaneous lift-off and exuberance of Beethoven's; and for Rastlose Liebe, Tomášek's response to a poem's metre and inflection can be a little earthbound—his Mignon setting of Singet nicht inTrauertönen (here called Die Nacht) compares unfavourably, for instance, with the poignancy of Hugo Wolf's setting. And there is no real frisson factor in his galloping Erlkönig.

Tomášek's settings then, as represented here, are uneven in quality. But his delightful, often salonesque, piano writing is palpably enjoyed by Roger Vignoles, and Renata Pokupić's winey mezzo whose slightly accented German and rolled 'r's has an apt flavour and timbre, especially for the six Bohemian songs. In many ways, these setting seem more substantial, more inventive musically—though Tomášek's setting of Goethe's Heidenröslein and Wanderers Nachtlied certainly bear comparison with those of Schubert.