Thomas Hampson has long been admired not only for the beauty of his richly pliant baritone voice, but also for the amount of research about composers and musicology he incorporates into his busy recital and opera life. This recording made in 1989 with the superb collaboration of pianist Geoffrey Parsons is an excellent example of what Hampson does best. He has selected the collection of German folk poetry 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn' assembled in 1896 - 1808 by Achim von Arnim and Clemens von Brentano which Goethe proclaimed the true essence of the German people, a legacy that would last forever, and found all of the musical settings to these poems. Indeed Goethe's prophecy proved correct in that many composers set these poems to music with varying degrees of celebrity.
Hampson has collected the renderings of this poems by composers Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, von Weber, Loewe, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, and of course the most popular settings by Gustav Mahler. The result is a fascinating insight into the way like poems are interpreted by different composers. There are many well-known episodes here but there are also intriguing discoveries of some very beautiful, seldom heard songs. Hampson and Parsons create an atmosphere of musicality and expressivity that is all too rare. That they are performed beautifully is a given!
This is the second release of this particular recital and before it, too, becomes history it is highly recommended for connoisseurs of thoughtful programs. Grady Harp, May 05