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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
André Schuen (baritone), Daniel Heide (piano)
rec. 2016, Villa Musica Rheinland-Pfalz, in Schloss Engers, Dianasaal
No texts enclosed
CAVI-MUSIC 8553373 [67:03]

André Schuen is a young baritone from the Ladin town in South Tyrol, Italy. I had never heard of him until I heard him at a concert in Falun, Sweden, a year ago, and even briefly said hello to him in the interval. He studied at Salzburg with Wolfgang Holzmair and has participated in master-classes with among others Thomas Allen, Brigitte Fassbaender and Olaf Bär – certainly a suitable background for a career as lieder-singer. But he also has an operatic career and has sung the title roles in Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro as well as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte – all under Harnoncourt. But obviously the lieder repertoire is close to him and he has issued two previous discs. The first with Daniel Heide as accompanist, as here, with songs by Schumann, Frank Martin and Hugo Wolf, the Harfenspieler-Lieder, which he also sang when I heard him. Very good he was, which made me eager to hear his Schubert readings on the present disc. In between these discs he also issued a disc last year with an all-Beethoven programme together with the Boulanger Trio.

He is well equipped for both his careers: a manly, powerful, darkish baritone with a rich pallet of soft nuances. The dynamic width in certain songs is almost too extreme. His reading of the opening Der Wanderer is really over-whelming, but he never pushes the voice beyond its natural limits and in general these are well-conceived and intelligent readings and there is dramatic intensity aplenty – witness Fahrt zum Hades (tr. 3), where he also displays his deepest register. Many of the songs are late Schubert, requiring deep emotional strength as well as physical stamina – a combination he employs to great effect in Totengräbers Heimweh (tr. 9) with its monumental opening and deeply moving conclusion. There is a lot of youthful vitality in songs like Der Musensohn and Auf der Bruck, and Mayrhofer’s Der Schiffer gets a vivid reading, further enhanced by his excellent enunciation of the text. That is a general feature in all the songs. Having grown up in South Tyrol he had three languages from the beginning: Ladin (a local Rhaeto-Romance language or dialect), Italian and German, which is a splendid combination for a singer. And his German is truly idiomatic.

But it isn’t only the dramatic songs that are his forte. The Goethe-setting An den Mond (tr. 5) receives a warm lyrical reading, and his singing of Des Fischers Liebesglück (tr. 6) is inward and very beautiful. The sensitive Im Abendrot (tr. 10) is possibly the highlight of the programme, but he has the measure of all these songs. The overriding theme of the recital, “Wanderer”, is no novelty in itself but it provides a unity that is not laboured – many of Schubert’s songs deal with wandering, not least the two song cycles – and it seems that Schubert saw life as a wandering, in the end towards death.

This programme as a whole feels very satisfying and should be an attractive buy for the many lovers of Schubert. Excellently sung, Daniel Heide’s accompaniments are pliable and the recording cannot be faulted. The only drawback is the absence of printed texts and translations in the booklet, but they are easily available online. I look forward to further recitals with André Schuen and Daniel Heide.

Göran Forsling

1. Der Wanderer D 493 (3rd Version) [6:07]
2. Der Wanderer an den Mond D 870 [2:51]
3. Fahrt zum Hades D 526 [6:09]
4. Der Schiffer D 536 [2:01]
5. An den Mond D 259 [4:14]
6. Des Fischers Liebesglück D 933 [8:32]
7. Der Musensohn D 764 [2:03]
8. Auf der Bruck D 853 [3:28]
9. Totengräbers Heimweh D 842 [7:45]
10. Im Abendrot D799 [4:51]
11. Abendstern D 806 [2:46]
12. Der Wanderer D 649 [3:53]
13. Im Frühling D 882 [5:15]
14. Auf der Donau D 553 [3:14]
15. Willkommen und Abschied D 767 [3:47]

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