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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh so consumptive, 15 Nov 2008
William Burn "gingerburn" (Nottingham, UK) - See all my reviews
Ian Bostridge is one of those poster boys only the English could ever produce. Latin America gives us Juan Diego Florez, Germany the smouldering Jonas Kaufmann, and we respond with a chap who looks like he should spend less time in draughty concert halls, and more time at home tucked up in bed. But, that is apparently what people want from an English tenor, judging at least by the number of discs bearing Bostridge's name.

So, is this worth your money? Well, the music on it should without doubt be in your collection: here are two of the greatest song-cycles of the 19th century, and a good tranche of other juicy numbers to boot, ranging from the delicious "Dein Angesicht" to the braggadocio of "Die beiden Grenadiere". What's more, the vast majority of the poems were written by Heinrich Heine, for the bitter, anguished quality of whose verse Schumann had a particular affinity.

And yet, it's really only worth three stars (despite Gramophone magazine rating this as their recommended recording of "Dichterliebe"), simply because Bostridge does not possess the qualities as an artist that are necessary for a great recording.

This is, I concede, a major criticism, but I'll justify my comments. Firstly, his voice, while initially attractive, quickly reveals itself to be a one-trick pony. Granted, there is a hysterical quality that is never far away which fits some of the music some of the time, but his range of colours is restricted simply by the thinness of his tone. What's more, the obvious flaws in his technique shine through (listen to verse 2 of "Berg' und Burgen" on first "tief", and his approaches to some of the high notes are either forced (as in "Es treibt mich hin"), or just unpleasant, as in "Lieb Liebchen".

There are a great many singers out there whose techniques are not flawless, but they make up for it in the quality of their artistry, but Bostridge is not among that number. I find myself listening not to Schumann, or the poet, or the lover of Opus 24, but to Bostridge swooping and crooning his way around the quiet passages, spitting out final consonants as if he had spinach between his teeth, and mangling vowel sounds left, right and centre. Moreover, because his voice is quite so fragile, Julius Drake (who is an outstanding pianist), has to play within himself throughout, even at the end of "Die beiden Grenadiere", where Drake noticeably reigns himself in when Bostridge sings.

If you want this repertoire, look elsewhere: Graham Johnson's series of Schumann songs offers some fantastic performances; Werner Gura's disc is much more powerful, not least because the man has a terrific voice; and Christian Gerhaher is making some glorious discs of Schumann's music. Of all them, I'd go for the Gura recording of "Dichterliebe", and get Johnson's disc of Opus 24 with the magnificent Christopher Maltman.

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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hoped for more, 26 Jun 2009
Per Arne Rudberg "P-A Rudberg" (Vallentuna, Sweden) - See all my reviews
The biggest advantage of this recording is the excellent playing by Julius Drake.
Unfortunately the pair doesn't succeed in transferring the superb interpretation skills from their Schubert recordings. The interpretations of these songs are not inspired. They replace inspiration and deeper understanding with superficial gestures.
Bostridges voice is not filling the big outbursts of emotions. In "Ich grolle nicht" he is straight on boring.
In some of the sweeter Liederkreis songs he is brilliant although.
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Schumann: Liederkreis & Dichterliebe etc
Schumann: Liederkreis & Dichterliebe etc by Ian Bostridge/Julius Drake
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