Schubert: Schwanengesang; Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

Schubert: Schwanengesang; Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge

by Julius Drake


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The pairing of Franz Schubert's "Schwanengesang" and Johannes Brahms' "Vier ernste Gesänge" gives this 2019 Hyperion album a somber cast that is appropriate for songs about loss and death, though the gloom is relieved by the composers' uplifting lyricism and the sublime artistry of the performers. Schubert's last songs were published posthumously, and the darker songs, such as "Kriegers Ahnung," "In der Ferne," "Die Stadt," and "Der Doppelgänger," are often seen as reflections of his despair over knowledge of his impending death. Yet his irrepressible gift for gorgeous melodies makes "Liebesbotschaft," "Frühlingssehnsucht," "Abschied," and "Das Fischermädchen" bright spots in the cycle, and the beloved "Ständchen" is among Schubert's most inspired creations. Brahms' set of songs were overtly stated as an expression of his personal and rather pessimistic feelings about life and death, though the three settings of passages from Ecclesiastes are somewhat mitigated by the exceptionally cheerful setting of verses from I Corinthians. Baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake are highly esteemed in the field of art songs, and as their 2014 Hyperion release of "Winterreise" demonstrated, their superb musicianship is often reminiscent of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerald Moore, both in emotional power and controlled technique. Even though the album may be heavy going because of its serious tone and grim subjects, and may cause some listeners to sample it, Finley and Drake make the experience thoroughly compelling and well worth hearing in one sitting.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/27/2019
Label: Harmonia Mundi Fr.
UPC: 0034571282886
catalogNumber: 68288
Rank: 5199


  1. Schwanengesang (Swan Song), song cycle for voice & piano, D. 957

    1. Liebesbotschaft  (03:07)
    2. Kriegers Ahnung  (05:37)
    3. Frühlingssehnsucht  (03:28)
    4. Ständchen  (04:07)
    5. Aufenthalt  (03:26)
    6. In der Ferne  (06:11)
    7. Abschied  (04:40)
    8. Der Atlas  (02:27)
    9. Ihr Bild  (03:15)
    10. Das Fischermädchen  (02:05)
    11. Die Stadt  (02:59)
    12. Am Meer  (04:37)
    13. Der Doppelgänger  (04:36)
  2. Die Taubenpost ("Ich hab' eine brieftaub'"), song for voice & piano (Schwanengesang), D. 965a (D. 957/14)  (04:22)
  3. Vier ernste Gesänge (Four Serious Songs), for voice & piano, Op. 121

    1. Denn es gehet dem Menschen  (04:41)
    2. Ich wandte mich, und sahe an alle  (04:20)
    3. O Tod, wie bitter bist du  (04:04)
    4. Wenn ich mit Menschen - und mit Engelzungen redete  (05:10)

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