Schubert’s Swansong Full Of Soul

Mark Padmore and Paul Lewis perform 14 of Schubert's greatest Lieder with passion in this must-own recording

Composer: Schubert
Repertoire:  Schwanengesang; Auf dem Strom; Die Sterne

Artists: Mark Padmore (ten), Paul Lewis (pf), Richard Watkins (hn)
Rating:  5/5
Genre: Vocal
Label: Harmonia Mundi HMU907520

The Music: Named by its publisher, Schubert’s ‘Swansong’ stands as a collection of 14 of his greatest Lieder.

The Performance: If Mark Padmore were to recite the texts of Schwanengesang, he’d hold any audience spellbound for sure. His feeling for words, their meaning and expression form the bedrock of this performance, as Schubert himself would have wanted. The intensity of communication here flows from the ideal marriage of verbal and musical articulation, complex and rich in their relationship, with singer and pianist united as selfless matchmakers between poetry and music. There are more extravagant, more emphatic and, for all Padmore’s sustained lyricism, even more beautiful Schwanengesang recordings. But I can think of few others that speak so directly to the soul and deliver such deep spiritual rewards as this release.

The Verdict: I urge you to buy this recording and spend intimate time with it. Padmore and Lewis have lived with Schubert’s great song-cycle long enough to transcend the superficial impressions left by its ‘tunes’, drawing listeners into a rare world of emotional expression.

Why You’ll Love This

  • Love’s Sickness

After the calm yet fragile emotional world set by the opening song, Padmore and lewis conjure up the intense drama of a warrior’s foreboding (track two). Listen to the heartfelt contrast drawn by singer and pianist between an armed youth’s bravado and the yearning restlessness of his final good night wish to his love.

One Eye Smiles, The Other Cries

  • Schubert’s uncanny ability to express joy and sorrow within the same phrase or verse of a song shines through in this multi-hued performance of ‘ständchen’ (‘serenade’).

Opera In Miniature

  • ‘Am Meer’ (‘By the sea’) moves from the realms of nature to those of the mind, conjuring up vivid descriptions of salt sea strands and bitter tears.