The program of this release, mixing Schubert and Schumann songs with much less well known pieces by Carl Friedrich Zelter, is a bit mysterious, and the CD booklet notes don't help clarify things at all; they merely describe the recording sessions in exhaustive detail. Why should Zelter be included? And why on earth should Schubert's strophic song An den Mond, D. 259, be mixed in with a few stanzas of Zelter's setting? Zelter was a favorite of Goethe, who had a fair number of weird ideas along with his great ones, and he's clearly a minor composer, although an early representative of the Romantic lied. The idea seems to be to present multiple settings of several texts, but the conclusion of the program, devoted to Schumann, doesn't fit in with this aim. The larger framework aside, there are many nice moments here. Some come from keyboardist Michael Schönheit, who lives up to his name with gorgeous low sonorities produced on an 1822 Graf fortepiano; the keyboard parts in Schumann's Liederkreis, Op. 39, add to the lyricism of the whole in a unique way in this historically oriented performance. Vocalist Gotthold Schwarz, mostly represented on recordings in bass parts from the Baroque era, is here designated a baritone; he moves easily between short lyrics like the multiple versions of Goethe's Wandrers Nachtlied, familiar classics like Schubert's Erlkönig, D. 328, and longer dramatic settings like Schumann's Belsazar, Op. 57. In general he has a fresh way of approaching much-recorded material, and the use of the fortepiano in an accompanimental helps fill a hole in the historical-performance discography. Worthwhile for historical-keyboard enthusiasts despite an opaque concept.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Liederkreis, Op. 39|