Decades: A Century of Song, Volume 1 (1810-1820)

Reviewed on Tue 23 Aug, 2016

Tenor Michael Schade and soprano Sylvia Schwartz assume the burden of responsibility and offer absorbing, nuanced performances. A cameo from baritone Florian Boesch in Schubert’s Das Grab adds further weight.

The key issue here is one of national balance. German repertoire from Schubert, Beethoven and Weber greatly dominates this opening volume of Malcolm Martineau’s forthcoming decade-by-decade survey of nineteenth century song. Tenor Michael Schade and soprano Sylvia Schwartz assume the burden of responsibility and offer absorbing, nuanced performances. A cameo from baritone Florian Boesch in Schubert’s Das Grab adds further weight. Contributions in French by rarely-performed Sophie Gail and Joseph Dominique Fabry-Garat (sung by soprano Lorna Anderson), Spanish by Sor (sung by Schwartz), settings of Goethe by Tomášek (with Schade) and Viotti (with mezzo Ann Murray) add a little colour along the way. Murray and Anderson prove delightful, Schade’s Tomášek a touch dull – more a reflection upon the composer than the singer. Perhaps a 2-CD set would have allowed for greater variety in the composers presented and therefore a fuller impression of art song between 1810-1820 would be given. However, with Martineau’s pianistic acumen and insight beyond question, the series is launched in style. Excellent recorded sound, superb extensive booklet essay, texts and translations further recommend this fine release.
–Evan Dickerson