Composer: Carl Otto Ehrenfried Nicolai, Franz Peter Schubert, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Carl Maria von Weber
Performer: Christian Gerhaher, Maximilian Schmitt, Maximilian Hornung
Orchestra: Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Conductor: Daniel Harding
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Size: 258 MB
01. Blick’ ich umher in diesem edlen Kreise
Schubert: Der Graf von der Gleichen
02. O Himmel… Mein Weib, o Gott, mein süßer Knabe
03. Ja, wart’ du bis zum jüngsten Tag
Nicolai: Die Heimkehr des Verbannten
04. Norton! Du bist es, der mit Frevler Wuth
Schubert: Alfonso und Estrella, D732
05. Sei mir gegrüßt, o Sonne
06. O sing mir, Vater… – Der Jäger ruhte hingegossen
07. Wie Todesahnung – O, du mein holder Abendstern
08. Wo berg’ ich mich?
On his first-ever aria recital album Christian Gerhaher makes a strong case for the fascinating early-Romantic operatic repertoire. His illuminating selection draws a stringent line from lyric gems of great melodic beauty by Schubert and Schumann to more dramatic scenes by Weber and Nicolai and to Wolfram’s famous monologues from Wagner’s Tannhäuser, an opera in which the baritone has won particular international acclaim.
German baritone Christian Gerhaher has recorded lieder, and his fundamentally gentle, intimate, moderate-sized voice is suited to that genre. Here, however, he steps it up successfully to early Romantic opera, from Schubert up to Wagner’s Tannhäuser and Otto Nicolai. If you’re wondering about the two separate Schubert operas, that gives you an idea of the value of this vocal-orchestral recital: it touches on some very unfamiliar music and generally does a good job bringing it to life. Schubert’s 1823 opera Alfonso und Estrella, not performed until it was revived by Liszt in 1854, has been recorded, but the excerpt from Der Graf von Gleichen, sketched out at the end of Schubert’s life and left unfinished (the realization here is by Richard Dünser, made in the 1990s) is a much rarer animal.
This is the highlight of the album; in Gerhaher’s hands, the aria “O Himmel … Mein Weib, O Gott, mein süßer Knabe” emerges as a real piece of Schubert’s broad and harmonically pathbreaking late style. Another comparative rarity is the excerpt from Schumann’s opera Genoveva, usually accounted the great failure of Schumann’s later years; Gerhaher gives the excerpt “Ja wart’ du bis zum jüngsten Tag” a spiky quality that is quite Wagnerian in its free speech cadences. The more melodic music from Otto Nicolai’s Die Heimkehr des Verbannten, also not common on recordings, provides an effective foil. Gerhaher’s voice has many surface pleasures, but his accomplishment here is to make the listener want to undertake a fresh hearing of the operas involved. A fine outing from the on-a-roll Sony Classical label, nicely recorded.