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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A baritone of real quality in an unusual programme, 10 Jun. 2012
Ralph Moore "Ralph operaphile" (Bishop's Stortford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Schubert: Romantic Poets, Vol. 4 (Audio CD)
I had not heard Florian Boesch before listening to this disc and I am very impressed. Rather than being yet another German baritone with that throaty, constricted sound so beloved of some Lieder cognoscenti, this is a properly produced and registered voice with resonance and an ease of emission which is a delight to the ear. Boesch reminds me most of a darker-voiced Simon Keenlyside in his virile timbre and clean legato - and his diction is wonderful without being over-emphatic. Having recently complained in a recent review about Bo Skovhus's too frequent resorting to falsetto and crooning, I am pleased to note that Boesch manages delicacy and gentleness of utterance by properly scaling down his voice without recourse to self-conscious tricks. This is a voice to watch as it matures; he is only 34, is already an accomplished Lieder singer and is already singing major operatic roles in Mozart as he has the heft and presence to do so and must surely progress on to bigger-voiced roles. He takes a few risks, descending to E and D sharp like a bass - just making it! - and really opening up on climaxes without sounding gross or grandstanding.

Naxos has done very well to sign him up for this programme of more obscure Schubert songs; their variety requires him to encompass a wide range of moods from gruff soldier, to pious supplicant, to ecstatic Nature-worshipper to desperate lover - and he is up to those demands, ensuring that his tone and colour are subtly graded to reflect the emotional ambience.

Boesch is fortunate to have an excellent accompanist in Burkhard Kehring and I am delighted to see that texts are available online, as most of us will be largely unfamiliar with the songs here. I knew only "Das Abendrot" and "Im Walde". My only reason for deducting a star is that not all the songs here are of the highest quality, despite receiving the finest advocacy from Boesch. The opening youthful Lied is rather diffuse and rambling despite some striking moments and not every one displays Schubert's melodic genius, although of course all are well-crafted, often utilising those particularly Schubertian tricks such as swift alternation between the major and minor and deliberate vagueness about where the tonality of a piece resides. As ever, one is struck by the invention and subtlety of the piano's part in telling a complementary or even another story alongside the singer.

This is the finest issue in this Naxos Schubert series so far and well worth the attention of any lover of Lieder and/or fine voices.
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Schubert: Romantic Poets, Vol. 4
Schubert: Romantic Poets, Vol. 4 by Franz Schubert (Audio CD - 2008)
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