Warm, deep, strong, and sensitive, baritone Thomas E. Bauer has everything Schumann's settings of Heinrich Heine needs except irony. In Schumann's Heine song cycles Dichterliebe and Liederkreis, Op. 24, Bauer thoroughly inhabits the rarefied German Romantic air of Schumann's music. Bauer lives Schumann's long-breathed melodies and ardent phrasing, pressing into his climaxes and lingering in his codas, bringing passionate intensity to every song from the intimate to the impetuous to the ethereal to the inflamed and making it all sound completely natural and graceful. With pianist Uta Hielscher, Bauer has more than an accompanist or even a partner, but a mate who knows what he'll do before he does it and does it with as much expressivity and even more elegance. Her codas are lovingly shaped and quietly moving. And while it is true that Bauer's performances lack irony, so, too, do Schumann's Heine settings. The young composer idolized the older poet but, in setting his poetry, Schumann nearly ignored Heine's irony and concentrated on his Romanticism, writing songs expressing his own fervid emotions and ardent sincerity without an umlaut of irony. Naxos' 2004 sound is crisp and immediate.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Liederkreis, 9 songs for voice & piano, Op. 24|
|Dichterliebe, song cycle for voice & piano, Op. 48|