Every once in a while, I get a Schubert craving, like the proverbial pregnant woman's hunger for pickles or persimmon parfait. The Schubert Lieder are among the most perfect unifications of poetry and music ever composed. I know many of the poems by heart in German, having memorized them in college. That would be a good thing for anyone who selects this performance to consider, since the texts are not included except by way of an internet site. In any case, feeling my familiar Schubert craving building up, and moderately dissatisfied with my last Schubert acquisition (by Thomas Hampson), I decided to hear what a couple of singers with proven ability in "historically informed" performance would have to offer, to whit: Barbara Bonney and Matthias Goerne.
Stated simply, this performance by Bonney is a disappointment. Her tuning is slack at times, her German enunciation is mushy, and her interpretations seem arbitrary all too often. Yes, she has a pretty voice, and she avoids the red-plush drawing-room pomposity of many Lieder sopranos, but that's not enough. She's just close enough, I have to say, to demonstrate just how hard it is to sing these artfully artless songs perfectly.
Now, on to the good news: the Matthias Goerne recital of Beethoven's 'An die ferne Geliebte" and Schubert's 'Schwanengesang' is completely satisfying; I'll be reviewing it also, as soon as I've listened to it enough. Hey, one out of two isn't so bad!