Top positive review
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on 14 December 2012
Christian Gerhaher is a real superstar. Not the luxury-endorsed, coiffured PR-hungry lemming of awards ceremonies and enhanced photos, but a truly unique singing talent, bringing fresh interpretations to familiar repertoire as well as enlivening less celebrated works. Romantische Arien, his latest disc for Sony, features party pieces from Tannhäuser alongside operatic rarities by Schubert, Schumann, Nicolai and Weber. Tender, thoughtful and occasionally tempestuous, this is singing of the very highest calibre.
When Gerhaher made his Royal Opera House debut as Wolfram in Tannhäuser in late 2010, critics tripped over themselves to praise his performance. The Arts Desk described the 'gauzy, flickering, Lieder-like [...] sensitivity' of his voice, while the Telegraph relished Gerhaher's 'quiet poise, gentle warmth and sincere musicianship.' Boulezian's Mark Berry said that 'the sheer beauty of his tone was breathtaking, but even more so were his vocal shading and verbal acuity.' This latest recording proves that these are the hallmarks of Gerhaher's career.
The two passages from Tannhäuser on this new disc - 'Blick' ich umher in diesem edlen Kreise' and 'O du, mein holder Abendstern' - are definite highlights, but by no means isolated glories. Accompanied throughout by the superb Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - sonorously and sympathetically directed by Daniel Harding - Gerhaher brings winning candour to all of these operatic scenes. So direct are his performances that he breaks through formulaic barriers such as recitative and aria, making these works sound almost late Romantic in their fluency.
But there's steel here too. In a particularly gripping scene from Schumann's Genoveva - yes, you did read that right - Gerhaher seizes the bull by the horns. Similarly, Lysiart's stand from Euryanthe brings previously untapped ire to the surface. Throughout, whether strident or soft, Gerhaher has an innate ability to tell stories through music. Just as on his recent sublime Ferne Geliebte disc, you never miss a syllable in favour of sound, though the voice is consistently ravishing to behold. Gerhaher is a very special performer, the true successor of the immediacy, musicality and warmth of the late great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.