Bo Skovhus

Schwanengesäng: Schubert's Last Songs

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More and more, Schubert's Schwanengesang (D. 957) isn't being treated with the respect due to a proper song cycle. And that's because Schwanengesang isn't a proper song cycle. Schubert never thought about it as a cycle: to him, they were songs setting poems by three different poets: Seidel, Rellstab, and Heine. It was his publisher's idea to group them all together as Schubert's posthumous Schwanengesang and thereby boost sheet music sales. These days, Schubert's Schwanengesang is a cycle in name only and singers feel free to group its songs as they would any set of Schubert songs. Danish baritone Boje Skovhus has grouped them by poet, a procedure that works wonderfully well as it preserves the order of the songs as Schubert's publisher arranged them. It adds four Seidel songs to Die Taubenpost, thereby filling out the listener's sense of Schubert's settings of the poets. It works less well for Skovhus. A pleasant voice and an intelligent interpreter, Skovhus is perfectly adequate for the Seidel and Rellstab songs; indeed, Standchen is quite seductive with its rounded phrases and smooth delivery. But Skovhus is out of his element in the Heine songs; the agonies and ecstasies and the heights and depths of Schubert's great songs are beyond his abilities to interpret effectively. This is great grouping, swell Seidel, dandy Rellstab, and mediocre Heine.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 02:56
2 03:55
3 03:46
4 03:35
5 01:57
6 02:12
7 02:39
8 02:07
9 02:51
10 04:14
11 04:19
12 02:41
13 04:38
14 03:21
15 03:28
16 02:41
17 05:33
18 03:09
19 04:17
blue highlight denotes track pick