The songs of Schwanengesang were among Schubert's final compositions. He had completed two short sets of songs with texts by Ludwig Rellstab and Heinrich Heine, and after his death his publisher combined them with a final song set to a text by Johann Gabriel Seidl (perhaps to avoid the number of songs being 13) and called them Schubert's "Swansong." German tenor Werner Güra brings flexibility and a strongly dramatic sensibility to the cycle. He is capable of a focused and well-supported light sound as well as a powerful but controlled fortissimo in the music's most forceful passages. His tone is full and consistent in all but the very lowest reaches of a few of the songs, and his top is heroically resonant. Güra is fully invested in these songs and the variety of vocal colors he is capable of summoning ideally suits the cycle's wide emotional spectrum. Pianist Christoph Berner is a fully matched partner; his nuanced sense of momentum supports the mercurial shifts implicit in the composer's subtle harmonic and melodic twists. The sound quality is clean, but a little distant, and boosting the volume can help with that.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957|
Willkommen und Abschied ("Es schlug mein Herz"), song for voice & piano (two versions), D. 767 (Op. 56/1)
Schäfers Klagelied ("Da droben auf jenem Berge"), song for voice & piano (two versions), D. 121 (Op. 3/1)
Sehnsucht ("Ach, aus dieses Tales gründen"), song for voice & piano (second version), D. 636 (Op. 39)