Myrtle & Rose: Songs by Clara and Robert Schumann
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Cat No: AV2407
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 12th July 2019
WorksLieder (3), op.12
ArtistsKyle Stegall (tenor)
Eric Zivian (fortepiano)
The album beautifully captures the artistic partnership of tenor Kyle Stegall and fortepianist Eric Zivian, who first collaborated at the Valley of the Moon Music Festival in Sonoma, California. Stegall’s “lovely tone and ardent expression” (The New York Times) and Eric Zivian’s original 1841 Rausch fortepiano from Vienna - built exactly when the songs were written - combine in these inspired and illuminating interpretations. The release celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Clara Schumann. A unique bonus is the inclusion of Kyle Stegall’s new English translations of the sung texts in the booklet.
“a gentle tone that melted the hearts of all” - OperaWire on Kyle Stegall
“the last word in low key virtuosity” - San Francisco Classical Voice on Eric Zivian
1Liederkreis, Op. 39: I. In Der Fremde
2Liederkreis, Op. 39: II. Intermezzo
3Liederkreis, Op. 39: III. Waldesgespräch
4Liederkreis, Op. 39: IV. Die Stille
5Liederkreis, Op. 39: V. Mondnacht
6Liederkreis, Op. 39: VI. SchÃ¶ne Fremde
7Liederkreis, Op. 39: VII. Auf Einer Burg
8Liederkreis, Op. 39: VIII. In Der Fremde
9Liederkreis, Op. 39: IX. Wehmut
10Liederkreis, Op. 39: X. Zwielicht
11Liederkreis, Op. 39: XI. Im Walde
12Liederkreis, Op. 39: XII. FrÃ¼hlingsnacht
136 Lieder, Op. 13: I. Ich Stand In Dunklen Träumen
16Lieder, Op. 12: IV. Liebst Du Um Schönheit
176 Lieder, Op. 23: VI. O Lust, O Lust
18Liederkreis, Op. 24: I. Morgens Steh' Ich Auf
19Liederkreis, Op. 24: II. Es Treibt Mich Hin
20Liederkreis, Op. 24: III. Ich Wandelte Unter Den BÃ¤umen
21Liederkreis, Op. 24: IV. Lieb' Liebchen
22Liederkries, Op. 24: V. SchÃ¶ne Wiege Meiner Leiden
23Liederkreis, Op. 24: VI. Warte, Warte, Wilder Schiffsmann
24Liederkreis, Op. 24: VII. Berg' Und Burgen Schau'n Herunter
25Liederkreis, Op. 24: VIII. Anfangs Wollt' Ich Fast Verzagen
26Liederkreis, Op. 24: IX. Mit Myrthen Und Rosen
And the performances themselves exceed all expectations. These are beautifully considered interpretations informed not just by deep stylistic awareness and understanding of period practice, but also by a profound and hugely affecting musicality. Stegall himself is very much a tenor in the Bostridge and Prégardien mould, with a light, pliant tone ideally suited to ‘period performance’, but with enough tonal depth and variety to take on the most expressively demanding of lieder. So it is in the Liederkreis, op.39, which sets texts by Joseph Eichendorff. In such well-known numbers as the rapt Mondnacht, Stegall uses vibrato sparingly to wondrous effect, instead making subtle dynamic gradations to shape the line. Zivian’s accompaniments are wonderfully vivid, aided by an 1841 Rausch fortepiano that sounds in exceptionally good condition with regard to tuning and action. As is so often the case, the use of an ‘historic’ instrument allows a myriad of detail to be heard without the singer ever being overwhelmed. From the rich hunting sonorities that open Waldesgespräch to the eerie austerity of Zwielicht, this is a reading of arresting potency with few equals in the catalogue. The exuberant piano cascades in the concluding Frühlingsnacht positively leap off the page, cajoling the voice to new heights of euphoria.
Set alongside Robert’s two Liederkreise, the five songs by Clara included here immediately strike the listener with their disarming expressive openness. Ich stand in dunklen Träumen, op.13 no.1, hints at the domestic warmth of the early years of marriage, while another Heine setting, the turbulent Lorelei, while clearly owing something of its heightened agitation to Schubert’s Erlkönig, is a miniature drama in its own right and on its own terms, the more so when performed with such thrilling engagement. Clara’s setting of Rückert’s Liebst du um Schönheit, so utterly different from Mahler’s famous later version, is a rare gem of a song, while the concluding O Lust, o Lust, op.23 no.6, is another vibrant, full-throated example of the considerable advantages of performing this repertoire in an historically informed but emotionally charged manner. And it’s to the credit of both performers and composer that this selection of songs stands so well beside the two cycles which frame it.
The third panel of the triptych is the Heine Liederkreis, op.24, composed in early 1840 when Robert’s passion for Clara was at its height (they married in September that year). The poems of unrequited love and cold, unfeeling women may seem a strange choice on the composer’s part, but surely reflect the doubt and frustration that Robert felt at still living some distance from Clara and her fiercely protective father. Once again Stegall and Zivian deliver a performance of quite exceptional range and distinctiveness, fully engaged with the fluctuating mood of the individual songs, and culminating in a meltingly beautiful account of the concluding Mit Myrten und Rosen with its neatly incorporated tribute to the ‘daddy’ of all song cycles, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte.
The performances are aided by a sympathetic recording made in the Trianon Theatre, San Jose, California, which has just the right degree of intimacy to suggest the 19th-century domestic music-making of which these masterpieces represent a highpoint. An added bonus, too, are the excellent English translations by Kyle Stegall himself, clearly a musician of exceptional ability and intelligence. It’s a rare treat to hear this music so stylishly performed, so free from mannerisms and yet so completely absorbing, a meeting of minds and techniques between singer and pianist. For lovers of art song, this is just about as good as it gets. Few other discs come close to demonstrating with such extraordinary clarity why it is that the 19th-century Lied (of the Schumanns in particular!) stands at the apex of musical Romanticism. And here’s hoping that we hear more from the fabulous partnership of Stegall and Zivian in the very near future.
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