Robin Tritschler / Graham Johnson

Songs by Robert Franz

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Robert Franz (Franz was his middle name; he dropped Knauth) was hailed as the savior of the German lied as it went into decline in the 1840s, under competition from the waltz and other new urban dances. He had his admirers, including Liszt, who transcribed many of his songs for piano and helped Franz during an old age marked by ill health. The generous selection of songs offered here by Irish tenor Robin Tritschler and accompanist Graham Johnson suggests that Franz is worth a revival, although his songs remain within a rather narrow set of parameters. The program contains 47 songs, most of them between a minute and two minutes long, and Franz favored strophic poems of two or three stanzas. To judge from the selection here, his favorite poet was Heinrich Heine, whose seemingly artless, slightly melancholy, but often subtle and humorous verses fit Franz's style perfectly (or vice versa). Schubert set Heine's poems, too, and it is to Franz's credit that his settings have a different flavor even as they inhabit basically the same musical universe; Franz doesn't even match the degree of chromaticism found in some of the more extreme Schubert songs. Several of the songs were also set by Schumann in the cycle Dichterliebe, Op. 48, and here again Franz holds his own. Sample the quintessentially Heine Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen (On a Shining Summer Morning), and you'll likely find yourself hooked. Tritschler is a new voice on the Irish and English scenes, and he deserves credit for his adventurous attitude toward repertory as well as for his direct, appealing readings here. Recommended.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 01:00 Amazon
2 00:39 Amazon
3 01:16 Amazon
4 01:37 Amazon
5 01:20 Amazon
6 01:40 Amazon
7 01:41 Amazon
8 04:02 Amazon
9 01:22 Amazon
10 01:36 Amazon
11 01:59 Amazon
12 01:28 Amazon
13 00:43 Amazon
14 01:17 Amazon
15 01:09 Amazon
16 01:30 Amazon
17 00:57 Amazon
18 01:44 Amazon
19 01:21 Amazon
20 01:48 Amazon
21 01:42 Amazon
22 00:59 Amazon
23 01:17 Amazon
24 01:59 Amazon
25 01:15 Amazon
26 01:32 Amazon
27 02:10 Amazon
28 01:09 Amazon
29 01:22 Amazon
30 02:15 Amazon
31 02:24 Amazon
32 00:59 Amazon
33 01:15 Amazon
34 02:19 Amazon
35 02:08 Amazon
36 01:26 Amazon
37 01:31 Amazon
38 02:26 Amazon
39 01:30 Amazon
40 01:45 Amazon
41 01:35 Amazon
42 02:09 Amazon
43 01:16 Amazon
44 01:18 Amazon
45 01:09 Amazon
46 03:40 Amazon
47 02:21 Amazon
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