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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Robert Schumann, Dichterliebe, Liederkreis, Laure Colladant, Stephen Lancaster


Robert Schumann's lieder were some of the very best of his era. In many ways he took the torch from Schubert. I suppose you could say I am generally pre-selected to like a good recording of such things. And the album up today is very much that. It features baritone Stephen Lancaster and pianist Laure Colladant on a lovely sounding vintage Molitor pianoforte. They take on two cycles with great poise, clarity, deliberation, gravitas--namely the Dichterliebe opus 48 and the Leiderkreis opus 39 (BCR56

Perhaps needless to say there may be no genre more dependent upon the performers for the ultimate product than lieder. The vocalist is of course everything and the pianist a close second. It is so much the case that one is tempted to remember Ornette Coleman's dictum that there is no bad music, only bad musicians! But of course with Schumann lieder an awful lot has to do with the beauty of the music itself. it goes without saying.

Beyond those considerations one ideally surrenders to the lyrical beauty of it all. The vintage piano sounds very sweet and Lancaster responds to Colladant's exceptionally sensitive reading with a refreshing ponderousness that does not stray from the matter-of-factness of the music as they approach it. You who read along here no doubt know at least a few of the songs in these cycles and if you do it is interesting to compare the versions you know already. For me at least there is something substantial with these readings, when I compare with others I know. They soar, true, but they also have a pronounced earthiness that seems right to the world we live in today.

So in the end I must say these complete versions of the cycles have a kind of benchmark definitiveness that makes me happy to have them. And that in itself makes me recommend the album without hesitation. Lancaster and Colladant give us detailed and inspired readings that open our ears to the beauty of it all and contrast nicely with other readings so it is worthwhile no matter what listening level you are on for Schumann's lieder. overall. A big bravo for this one!

So and the feelings about feelings as we live through this rather peculiar period.

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