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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.

Robert A Moore
American Record Guide, May 2009

If you like Schubert on the robust side, this release may appeal to you. Some odds and ends are included here in Volume 29 of the often excellent Naxos Schubert-Lied-Edition…The good news is that if you are looking for Schubert songs that are seldom recorded and even more seldom performed, you can find them here on one disc…Bothmer is a brave singer to take on the challenges of these songs. He has a strong, virile voice, but he tends to approach the songs in a decidedly operatic manner without sufficient subtlety; he’s a splendid singer, but his approach to lieder does not match the finesse of most of the other singers in this series. That said, it is almost worth the price of the CD to hear his amazingly secure low E that no tenor should be expected to sing…Eisenlohr, the artistic leader of this Schubert project, is his dependable self as accompanist. On other releases he accompanies on a fortepiano, but here he is playing a modern piano—perhaps to match the singer’s full-bodied sound. His notes are thorough and informative.

Göran Forsling
MusicWeb International, March 2009

Trost (Consolation), written shortly before the well-known Der Tod und das Mädchen, has a similar tone, a similar gravity, similar emotions grippingly depicted. This stands out even more distinctly here since the surrounding songs convey such diametrically opposed moods. Here the singer is also required to go down to the deepest bass register, which Ferdinand von Bothmer does with amazing facility.

He has an agreeable voice, flexible with a bright edge to the tone when under pressure. Even so a couple of the songs should have been allocated to a more dramatic voice. In Trost though he seems more or less ideal. The first song, the nervously forward-moving Als ich sie erröten sah, sits well in his reading and so do the short Der Wachtelschlag and Tischlerlied—agreeable but in the last resort still second rate Schubert. Morgenlied and Abendlied, set on the same day to anonymous poems, presumably by the same poet, are strophic and melodious, the one lively and expectant, the other carefree and far from nocturnal. Both are well sung.

Of the remaining three songs I have some doubts. Minona, rather long, partly declamatory but also intense, should have been allocated a more powerful voice. Elly Ameling once recorded it; hers was a far from dramatic voice but she still managed it without being too strained. The early Der Vatermörder, written on 26 December 1811 when Schubert was fourteen, is a horrifying tale and one marvels at the teenager’s deep involvement and technical accomplishment but the song is almost superhumanly demanding on the singer. Von Bothmer jumps in at the deep end and survives by the skin of his teeth.

The real stumbling-block is Adelwold und Emma, his longest song by some margin, which occupies almost half the disc. It has regularly been written off as a failure—someone called it a ‘do-it-yourself opera’. I can’t find that the various condemnations are wide of the mark. There are moments of inspired melodic invention but by and large it is too unwieldy. I feel no temptation to listen to it again in a hurry. And it isn’t von Bothmer’s fault. He works hard to convince the listener that it is a worthwhile composition.

Ulrich Eisenlohr, the mastermind behind the whole project, is as usual a positive partner and his liner notes are illuminating.

Readers who have collected this series so far need not hesitate. At least for Trost the disc is a worthy addition to any Lieder collection. On the other hand those with a modest interest in Lieder or in Schubert’s oeuvre at large should first invest in some of the earlier issues.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2008

Among Schubert’s prodigious quantity of songs, Adelwold und Emma took the genre into unchartered territory, its extended length in essence creating a one-act operatic melodrama. Together with Minona, a score much less ambitious but of the same character, it has been long criticised, the composer, working at a feverish pace creating in just one day a score where song is linked by recitative. The text for both pieces came from Friederich Bertrand, his work having been described as ‘antiquated doggerel that relates dreadfully maudlin scenes’, and that was probably intended as high praise. Yet in many ways it tells much of Schubert’s mental state, for he was only 18 when he was drawn to Adelwold und Emma, a story of tortured grief and brooding, and it obviously fired his young imagination. That his conception really needed an orchestra comes in the often frantic efforts of the pianist to paint the scene in support of the voice. Minona is much shorter but also inhabits an unhappy world where a young girl stabs herself with the arrow used by her father to kill her lover. Both scores are included in Naxos’s 29th edition of the complete Schubert lieder, the remainder of the disc given to seven short songs mainly by anonymous writers. It is performed by the young German tenor, Ferdinand von Bothmer, his nicely focused voice a pleasure in the short songs. Like the composer he does at times get overheated with the angst of the musical scene of the two major works, and presses forward with haste. Given the portrayal that Schubert produced you could hardly blame him for that, and within the remit of such texts his pressurised tone is well suited. The pianist, Ulrich Eisenlohr, does everything he can to present a favourable slant on the composer’s youthful enthisiasm.

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