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Wie Freundlich Strahlt der Tag
Friedrich von FLOTOW (1812-1883)
Ach so fromm: Martha (1847) [2.52]
Wie freundlich strahlt der Tag: Alessandro Stradella (1844) [7.47]
Albert LORTZING (1801-1851)
Lebe wohl mein flandrisch Mädchen: Zar und Zimmermann (1837) [4.23]
Heinrich MARSCHNER (1795-1861)
Wie ein schöner Frühlingsmorgen: Der Vampyr (1828) [5.29]
Otto NICOLAI (1810-1849)
Horch die Lerche: Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (1849) [4.30]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Was quälst Du Dich: Fierrabras (1822) [5.42]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Mit Gewitter und Sturm: Der fliegende Holländer (1843) [5.43]
Den Bronnen, den uns Wolfram nannte: Tannhäuser (1845) [1.55]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Nein! Länger trag ich nicht die Qualen: Der Freischütz (1821) [6.48]
Unter blühenden Mandelbäumen: Euryanthe (1823) [3.57]
Richard WAGNER
Allmächt'ger Vater: Rienzi (1840) [9.40]
Maximilian Schmitt (tenor)
WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln/Patrick Lange
rec. 5-10 January 2015, Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany

Following two solo recitals on Oehms Classics Maximilian Schmitt now figures centre-stage in this album of Romantic German Arias entitled Wie Freundlich Strahlt der Tag (How Friendly the Day Shines). Beginning as a choirboy in the Regensburger Domspatzen, Bavaria, Schmitt later trained in Berlin and in the studios of the Bayerische Staatsoper, debuting as Tamino. From 2008 to 2012 he was an ensemble member of the Nationaltheater, Mannheim.

From the end of the eighteenth century and through into the nineteenth German composers successfully established a national school of music drama. This was distinctive in its relationship to the German language and culture. Its profound psychological themes would influence the Italian and French models. In the last five or six years there has been a trend by the finest German singers such as Jonas Kaufmann/Decca, Christian Gerhaher/Sony and Klaus Florian Vogt/Sony to release albums of Romantic German arias. These include the most obvious and popular arias together with some drawn from neglected repertoire.

For this eleven track collection Schmitt has turned to works such as Flotow’s Alessandro Stradella, Lortzing’s Zar und Zimmerman and Marschner Der Vampyr. Renowned operas are prominent too with noted arias from Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Tannhäuser and Weber’s Der Freischütz. The collection starts with Flotow’s Ach so fromm from Martha and Wie freundlich strahlt der Tag from Alessandro Stradella. Schmitt gives tightly focused performances that demonstrate his light bright tenor to splendid effect. New to me are the Lortzing and Marschner arias which are attractive and well sung. Wie ein schöne Frühlingsmorgen from Der Vampyr is beautifully rendered with Schmitt effortlessly demonstrating his high register.

The tessitura of the demanding aria Was quälst Du Dich (Schubert’s Fierrabras) falls nicely into the singer's range. Weber’s Der Freischütz is considered one of the first masterpieces of the German national school and in Nein! Länger trag ich nicht die Qualen there's an abundance of drama with an unsettling undertow. In Allmächt'ger Vater (Rienzi), as the hero prays for fortitude, Schmitt seems to have difficulty in maintaining control throughout the demanding line. In this case he cannot hold a candle to recorded accounts from Kaufmann and Vogt. Highly assured throughout, Patrick Lange, who incidentally also began his career with the Regensburger Domspatzen, conducts the excellent WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln in immaculate performances.

The sound is natural and clear with good balance between singer and orchestra. This Oehms release cannot match the professionalism of recent releases by the likes of Kaufmann, Vogt and Gerhaher. The omission of texts and English translations is especially disappointing in such rare repertoire. Not even the name of the characters singing the arias is given in the booklet. Some of the rival recordings mentioned above provide a helpful explanation of each aria within its operatic context. The bland cover picture of the booklet doesn't help either. There's also a short interview by Bjørn Woll with Schmitt.

There are better alternative anthologies from Romantic German opera; nevertheless those who especially admire this repertoire should not hesitate.

Michael Cookson



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