Barbara Bonney's recital of the Schumanns' songs is prefaced, in the booklet-note, with a little feminist homily from the singer defending the reputation of Clara as woman and artist. Clara hardly needs that kind of defence nowadays, witness recent CDs by Skovhus and Stutzmann, plus several others not reviewed in these pages; her songs are far from patronized, let alone neglected. Yet, for all the advocacy of these singers, her inspiration remains for me intermittent, though thoroughly conventional songs are occasionally leavened by notably individual ones, such as, here, her very last and unpublished song, Loreley, which vividly conjures up that dangerous creature, particu lady in the hectic piano part, evocatively played by Ashkenazy. Indeed it seems that Heine most inspired her, as "Sic liebten sich beide" from her Op. 13 provoked a setting of economically intense meaning, to which Bonney finely responds.– Gramophone [9/1997].
This is a reissue of Mahler performances delivered in Cologne in 1992 and 1993, and Thomas Quasthoff, just on the verge of international fame, was in phenomenal voice. The upper extension of his beautiful, expressive bass-baritone is thrilling, in perfect control. Artistically, he only grew stronger, as evidenced by his searing reading of 'Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen' under Boulez (DG), but this earlier interpretation comes close, and there's no comparison so far as vocalism is concerned. The WDR orchestra plays well under the rather prosaic leadership of the late Gary Bertini (a native Russian who emigrated to Palestine as a child in the 1930s)– both are good enough, and the recorded sound is excellent. In all, this is a shattering reading by Quasthoff that should be heard by every lover of Mahler.
Despite his premature death at age 35, Fritz Wunderlich was one of the great lyric tenors of the century, equally at home with Mozart's Magic Flute and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Why, then, does Schubert's great song cycle about disappointed love so often elude him? Though he brings his usual vocal splendor and gratifying lyricism to the music in ways that few tenors can dream of, both Wunderlich and his accompanist have a strangely club-footed sense of rhythm. What should often be an intimate expression is extroverted and even labored. – David Patrick Stearns
Ian Bostridge brings his characterful lyricism, and singing of beautiful intelligence, to a welcome sixth volume in Graham Johnson’s comprehensive series. "The lovesick texts are somewhat overwrought and highly coloured to modern ears, but Bostridge is totally convincing, particularly in his wonderfully sensitive handling of the Op 96 collection. Johnson, that poet of the piano, underpins everything with just the right level of ardour—and he writes tremendous sleeve notes."