An interesting feature of baritone Matthias Goerne's cycle of three Lieder recordings for the Deutsche Grammophon label is that all three have had different accompanists, all on the young side: Jan Lisiecki for Goerne's album of Beethoven songs, Seong-Jin Cho for Strauss, and now Daniil Trifonov in this ambitious recital of works by Berg, Schumann, Wolf, Shostakovich, and Brahms. All have been well matched to the repertory involved, but Trifonov turns out to be an exceptional accompanist, seizing control of the proceedings with Berg's dreamlike songs that push listeners into the realm of deeper thoughts. Goerne makes the claim that his program here is "metaphysical" rather than "historical." This is apparently because three of the cycles on the program deal with death, or four if one counts the coffin-oriented finale of Schumann's Dichterliebe, Op. 48. Yet the program is not lugbrious; it has more of a sense of wrestling with metaphysical issues, and the cycles by Wolf and Shostakovich on texts by Michelangelo have a great soberness. The transition from the Berg, with its somewhat disturbed atmosphere, to the Dichterliebe has an uncanny naturalness, almost inevitability, as if the poet were seeking love as an answer to questions of existential despair. This is, in short, a program that is heavy in the very best way. Goerne has never sounded better, and the lively, always shifting interaction between singer and pianist here makes one hope that Goerne and Trifonov will join forces again. They were rewarded with considerable commercial success here, so it could happen.
Lieder: Berg, Schumann, Wolf, Shostakovich, Brahms Review
by James Manheim