on 9 July 2010
Although Simon Keenlyside is better known for his contributions to Opera, having sung in most of the best Opera Houses and with many of the world's finest orchestras, his pure baritone voice is a genuine delight with these more subtle and delicate lieder. The piano, played by Malcolm Martineau, is an absolute joy, rippling and bubbling along, reminiscent of Schubert's 'Trout'.
There are 16 songs by Brahms followed by 16 songs comprising Schumann's Dichterliebe (a Poet's Love). The combination is perfectly logical when one considers that Schumann had, for two years, been Brahm's mentor and Brahms was the pianist at the first public performance of this work.
Dichterliebe is a collection of beautiful songs, some lively and cheerful, others thoughtful and one or two melancholy. German is such a wonderful language for rhyming: ich liebe alleine, Die Kleine, die Feine, die Reine, Die Eine (I only love she who is small, fine, pure, rare) from Die Rose, die Lilie, die Taube, Die Sonne (rose, lily, dove, sun) is perhaps the pick, but there are many other pearls in this oyster: notably track 27, Ein Jungling liebt ein Madschen (a boy loves a girl) and track 31, Aus alten Marchen winkt es (a white hand beckons). Schumann's music provides energy and adds beauty to the poetry.
The songs by Brahms, while pleasant enough, are all fairly sombre and rather similar, which is the reason for the four star, rather than a five star rating. However, they improve with familiarity and the disc is well worth purchasing for this outstanding version of Dichterliebe alone.
I stumbled upon this album whilst surfing Amazon. I love baritone voices - probably more than I do a nice tenor, and I was not disappointed with this collection!
There are SO many great performances here, from the hauntingly beautiful track two, to track three, where Simon's voice is so full of gentleness - without losing any of the masculinity (not always easy for a man to achieve such gentleness) to track seven which is another fine example of this gentleness at work.
I think out of the two - the Brahms collection is by far the best for me - but each to their own of course. I have put the highlights at the end of this review (of which there are so many) but for me as personal favourites, it's a VERY tight contest between tracks seven and fourteen I think!
I also love the fact that most tracks are nice and short numbers, which is just the way I like it!
Highlights - Tracks; 1, 2, 3, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15, 20, 26 & 28