Heimat

Reviewed on Wed 31 May, 2017

The disc’s title – loosely translated as a deeply felt sense of belonging – provides its theme, and the predominant emotions are laced with nostalgia, yearning and the poignancy of separation.

In his debut on Sony Classical, Benjamin Appl nails his colours to the mast as the pretender to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s Lieder crown. He’s clearly learned much from his one-time mentor in terms of clarity of diction, precision of phrasing and depth of emotional intent. Not everything in a 25-song programme spanning Germany, France, Scandinavia and England persuades, but when Appl and his excellent pianist-partner James Baillieu chime, the result is full of promise for future endeavours. The disc’s title – loosely translated as a deeply felt sense of belonging – provides its theme, and the predominant emotions are laced with nostalgia, yearning and the poignancy of separation. Appl’s baritone is rich and lustrous, too much so for Henry Bishop’s saccharine ‘Home Sweet Home’. But there is real brio to Peter Warlock’s ‘The Bachelor’, ecstasy in Grieg’s ‘Ein Traum’, and in the German material – Schubert, Brahms, Wolf and, particularly, Richard Strauss’s ‘Allerseelen’ – he reveals himself as a voice with considerable potential.
–Michael Quinn