Joseph K. So
La Scena Musicale
, January 2010
Arguably baritone Thomas Hampson is the greatest lieder interpreter America has ever produced. A thinking man’s singer, he combines a beautiful voice with exemplary musicality, a deep interest in and understanding of the text, and a genuine commitment to the recital stage that has never diminished in his nearly 30- year career. This all-Schumann recital, recorded at Munich’s Prinzregententheater in December 2007 captured the singer at the height of his powers. On the disc are Zwölf Gedichte op. 35, and the original 1840 version of Dichterliebe op. 48. It contains substantial differences in the music and the text, including the restoration of four songs previously omitted by person unknown from the published score. This “new” twenty-song cycle is presented here as a world premiere recording. Never has Schumann sounded so profound as Hampson sings it, with all the joy and pain on the score virtually jumping off the page at the listener. A long-time resident of Vienna, Hampson’s German is impeccable. In excellent voice,he takes vocal chances—using falsetto when needed, as in Stirb, Lieb’ und Freud.’
The opening lines of “Stille Tränen”sung in a hushed tone,are gorgeous.‘Es leuchtet meine Liebe’with its high tessitura, would have defeated many singers, but Hampson delivers it with great authority. The excellent camera work with many close-ups shows off the soloist’s intensity and power of concentration. Pianist Wolfram Rieger is a sensitive and responsive recital partner. The booklet has an interesting essay on the music, but shamefully no song text.This is an essential disc for anyone interested in Schumann lieder, as well as fans of this great American baritone.