, February 2002
"It's great to have the team of baritone Roman Trekel and pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr back together for more Schubert. I've been waiting for their return ever since Volume 1 in this Naxos Schubert song series, where they made such profoundly beautiful music in their performance of Winterreise (type Q661 in Search Reviews). Here they join with soprano Ruth Ziesak to perform some of Schubert's more unusual songs--settings of poems by Ossian (James Macpherson) that are exceptional for their freer structures and near-pictorial musical storytelling. The young composer's imagination seemed to find special inspiration in the powerfully vivid images and fantastic tales embodied in these poems and he gives the singers and accompanist some bold and challenging music to perform. The latter part of the program is devoted to songs on texts by Walter Scott, primarily from Lady of the Lake.
Trekel is as strong of voice and eloquent of interpretation as before; he really takes over the stage in a tour de force such as the 11-minute-long Lodas Gespenst ('Loda's Ghost') and makes the most of the relatively short (less than two minutes) declamations of the opening Ossian's Lied. Soprano Ruth Ziesak is a lighter-voiced...interpreter whose sincere expression and clear-as-polished-glass tone (and impeccable but not fussy diction) makes her every contribution a pleasant listening experience. She doesn't push to create artificial largeness nor does she hold back the dramatic impact of songs such as Kolmas Klage ('It is night I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storms.') She just as easily handles the melancholic lyricism of Das Madchen von Inistore and the gentle lilt of Ellens Gesang I, showing off a lovely, warm quality in her lower-register. Ellens Gesang III, known most famously for its setting of Walter ScottÝs Ave Maria text, is delivered with direct, unsentimental style that perfectly suits the straightforward simplicity of the melody and accompaniment.
Eisenlohr is an ideal partner for both singers, generous of tone yet considerate of critical matters of balance and nuance. While we're handing out the praise, we shouldn't forget the composer, especially regarding his uniquely adventurous Ossian songs, often near-orchestral in their dramatic eloquence and textural complexity. The excellent sound caps another winning title in this increasingly important Schubert song series from Naxos."