Brahms: Vier ernste Gesänge, Op 121; Lieder und Gesänge, Op 32; 5 Lieder nach Gedichten von Heinrich Heine

Reviewed on Mon 19 Sep, 2016

Matthias Goerne’s Brahms projects that by-now burnished, rounded tone with care over word painting ... judged as an entity, this is without question a first-rate recital.

To say that Matthias Goerne is the present generation’s Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is not to suggest that he sounds anything remotely like his great forebear, more that he has achieved a similar artistic status. Goerne’s Brahms projects that by-now burnished, rounded tone with care over word painting, even though audible breathing occasionally intrudes. Try Meerfahrt (‘Sea Voyage’) – a lovers’ journey past bliss to the swirling, wild sea – one of five Heine settings programmed, where Christoph Eschenbach’s sets the narrative scene with sullen grandeur and where both where artists draw the song to an unnervingly intense climax. Wie bist du, meine Königin, (‘My queen, how blissful you are’) is perhaps the most moving of the nine Op 32 songs, and if Goerne’s lovely singing of the Vier ernste Gesänge (‘Four Serious Songs’) doesn’t quite erase memories of the young and rather more plangent Fischer-Dieskau and the marmoreal Hans Hotter in mid-life, it’s full of bewitching moments none the less – and, again, Eschenbach offers Goerne profoundly musical support. Judged as an entity, this is without question a first-rate recital, hopefully to be followed by a ‘Brahms volume two’.
–Rob Cowan