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Stephen Eddins, August 2011

For his third solo recital album German tenor Daniel Behle sings Schumann’s Dichterliebe and eight Schubert songs. Behle has a sweet, light tenor ideal for Tamino (which he has recorded under René Jacobs) but he can also soar with thrilling romantic urgency, as he demonstrates beautifully in the more dramatically arching songs like “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai.” His Dichterliebe is, above all, poetic. He and pianist Sveinung Bjelland bring a nuanced flexibility to the musical arc of each song and of the whole cycle. Behle performs the songs with deep feeling and an appealing intelligence. The cycle as a whole lies just a tad low to be entirely comfortable for him…. As impressive as Behle is for the most part, the subtlety and expressive sensitivity of pianist Bjelland’s performance could be perceived as stealing the show; although the balance between the voice and piano is good, the ear is inexorably drawn most strongly to Bjelland’s spectacularly perceptive playing. His nuanced rhythmic flexibility and sense of pacing are superb. He excels in highlighting Schumann’s sometimes astonishing harmonic progressions, which to modern ears no longer have the novelty they did when they were first heard. The Schubert songs have the same interpretive strengths and lower register difficulties as the Schumann. The inclusion of two songs using additional forces—a men’s chorus in “Nachthelle,” and clarinet, played glowingly by Andy Miles, in “Der Hirt auf dem Felsen”—is a treat. Capriccio’s sound is clear, warm, and nicely ambient. This version of Dichterliebe won’t displace the classic recorded performances, but Bjelland’s stellar playing makes it one fans of the cycle should hear.

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