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Robert A. Moore
American Record Guide, May 2012

Kobow has one of the finest voices for lieder to be heard today, a delectably lyric voice beautifully placed and full of warm color and virility. Many of these 23 songs may be less familiar, but his singing makes them ones you will be glad to know. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Robert A Moore
American Record Guide, July 2009

Naxos concludes its “Poets of Sensibility” series in grand style with these 23 settings of texts by some lesser-known poets. In 1816 and 1817 Schubert wrote 13 songs on texts by Johann Gaudenz Freiherr von Salis-Seewis, a Swiss nobleman who traveled through Germany to meet Goethe, Schiller, Herder, and other important literary figures. Two of Schubert’s four settings of Salis-Seewis’s ‘In Stille Land’ are heard, along with two other songs in earlier and later settings here that allow the listener to hear the composer’s ability to set a text in a new way. Six settings of texts by Johann Peter Uz conclude the program.

Kobov has one of the finest voices for lieder to be heard today; his voice has the virtues of Bostridge’s but with more color and virility. His Schwanengesang was one of the finest lieder recordings of 2008. Naxos’s sound engineering allows an even better chance to hear how good his voice is for this music. Eisenlohr’s excellent accompaniment on fortepiano makes a very convincing case for the use of the period instrument and offers ideal support for this delectably lyric voice. As usual with Naxos, there are notes but no texts. [The lyrics and English translations are available online—Ed]

Paul Turok
Turok’s Choice, June 2009

SCHUBERT, F.: Lied Edition 27 - Romantic Poets, Vol. 4 8.570067
SCHUBERT, F.: Lied Edition 30 - Poets of Sensibility, Vol. 6 8.570480
SCHUBERT, F.: Lied Edition 29 - Settings of Various Poets 8.570838

The complete Schubert songs, sparked by pianist Ulrich Eisenlohr, with young German singers and organized by types of poets (as was the 1816 edition of his songs) now contains Vol. 4 of settings of Romantic poets (8.570067) and Vol.6 of Poets of Sensibility (8.570480). A further volume, defying classification, is entitled Settings of Various Poets (8.570838), containing Adelwold und Emma, a text that sometimes nears doggerel, in a setting that takes nearly a half hour! It is surprisingly well sung by Ferdinand von Bothmer with Eisenlohr accompanying; the pianist also appears on Romantic Poets, with tenor Jan Kobow, who seems rather effete. The other disc features the fine baritone Florian Boesch and pianist Burkhard Kehring, who has appeared in the series before.

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, May 2009

The first fourteen songs are settings of poems by Johann Gaudenz von Salis-Seewis (1762–1834). This is the man on the cover painting. He was a Swiss nobleman who had met Goethe and Schiller and other literary greats but his own poetry was hardly on their level. Still Schubert obviously was inspired by it and some of them exist in more than one version. There are no less than four versions of Ins stille Land, the first and last of which are performed here. They differ very little but the fourth version is more melancholy in atmosphere and sung here much slower. Fischerlied is heard in two widely different settings. The earlier, D.351, is jolly and carefree and has a la-la-la refrain; the later, D.562, more elaborate and rather melismatic. Melisma is when one sings more than one note on each syllable. Die Einsiedelei is also preserved in two different settings, where the earlier, D.393, is lighter in tone the later, D.563, is darker but at the same time more lively. The more mature composer sees different things in the poem than the teenager does.

Apart from Der Jüngling an der Quelle, which deservedly is counted among the great Schubert songs, Der Entfernten, is an attractive strophic song with quite elaborate accompaniment. Abschied is dark and solemn with the fortepiano producing a much more realistic harp sound than a modern concert grand. These are possibly the finest of the Salis-Seewis settings.

Among the six settings of Johann Peter Uz (1720–1796) Die Nacht D.358 has the deepest emotions and should undoubtedly be heard more often. Die Liebesgötter is more or less a rococo pasticcio, sung and played with great enthusiasm, and the manuscript to An Chloen is damaged—the opening having only the bass line of the piano accompaniment. For the recording the musicians have tried to fill in a suitable beginning. To my ears it sounds convincing.

Of the remaining songs Heimliches Lieben to a text by Karoline Louise von Klenke (1754–1802) is a substantial piece, harmonically brave and with a dark intensity that places it on a par with Schubert’s late masterpieces. He was given the poem by his hostess during a stay in Graz in 1827 and its Deutsch number tells us that it was completed just after Winterreise.

Though the songs in themselves may be of variable interest the singing is definitely constantly on the high level I expected from Jan Kobow. Excellently accompanied on fortepiano by Ulrich Eisenlohr the readings are exquisite in an early 19th century manner. There is no breast-beating and superimposing of heavy accents. On the contrary what first strikes the listener is the superb legato, the beautiful tone and the fine sensitivity to nuance. I think it’s wrong to call them small-scale readings since that term implies—sometimes at least—facelessness. Kobow sings with a lot of face but the expressive compass is within a subtle range—there are no grimaces. Add to this his clear enunciation of the texts and his sensitive shadings of voice colour. This disc is ample proof of Jan Kobow being one of the most accomplished Lieder singers of his generation.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2009

This is the sixth and final volume of Schubert songs that were set to the words of a small group of poets that particularly attracted him. The lack of good taste the teenager showed in his choice of poets has oft been cited, and here we have words by the Swiss nobleman, Johann Gaudenz, Baron von Salis-Seewis, better known in military circles than for his poetry. Schubert, nineteen at the time, must have felt some affinity with them, though he never lavished on any more than thirty bars of music. In many ways the simple repeated tune can be more attractive than the extended works where gravity sometimes outstripped his genius, and they speak of The Youth by the Spring, the melancholy To the Distant Beloved, and the rusticity of The Ploughman’s Song. He offered little more time to the poets, Johann Peter Uz and Friedrich von Kopken, but seems more attracted to the words of Karoline Louise von Klenke in Heimliches Lieben (Secret Love), a poetess who had died a few years earlier at the age of forty-eight. Maybe my complete enjoyment has as much to do with the singer, Jan Kobow, a young German tenor who eleven years ago won the International Bach Competition in Leipzig, and has since largely devoted his career to lieder. Listening to his perfectly focused, light and nimble voice, with its clarity of diction and faultless intonation, I felt Naxos could with advantage have entrusted more of this Schubert series to him. Ulrich Eisenlohr’s accompaniments have been inspired, but I wish Naxos could get used to provenance of period instruments in their booklets, the present fortepiano being an unspecified gem. The Bavarian Radio recording is top quality, and I much commend the disc to you.

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