Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Clara Schumann's Songs on Naxos
Robin Friedman | Washington, D.C. United States | 03/19/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In recent years, Clara Schumann (1819 -- 1896) has secured belated recognition for her achievements as a composer. Her music richly rewards hearing, as shown in this new release on Naxos of her complete songs performed by two young artists, soprano Dorothea Craxton and pianist Hedayet Djeddikar. I was unfamiliar with either of these performers, but Craxton sings with passion and force while Djeddikar, who specializes in art song accompaniment, proves a sensitive interpreter in his own right. In this recording he plays on a fortepiano that had been owned by Clara Schumann. It has a softer somewhat more muffled tone than a contemporary grand.
Schumann's art song output fits comfortably on a single CD. Of the 29 works recorded here, only three songs (the final three tracks) date from her early years. The remaining songs were composed between 1840, following her marriage to Robert Schumann, and 1853. Clara Schumann stopped composing entirely upon the death of her husband in 1856.
Schumann's songs are passionate and romantic. Most of them celebrate love, and several of them also are about nature. The songs are generally short. Most of her art songs are slow in tempo and intense. The songs show substantial harmonic quirkiness which reminded me of the music of her husband. The piano has a large and independent role in this music with frequently extensive postludes and interludes. Most of Clara Schumann's songs were composed for Robert as birthday or anniversary presents. She composed on occasion for other people as well. Her songs were sometimes published jointly with works of Robert and sometimes as separate works solely under her name.
Some of the texts Schumann set will be familiar to lovers of art song. Schumann's final song setting in 1853 was of Goethe's poem "Das Veilchen" which Mozart had set in his greatest song. Schumann also set poems by Friedrich Ruckert, Heinrich Heine, and Emmanuel Geibel, among other poets. One of her finest songs is a sweeping setting of a Robert Burns poem, "On the Shore" in a German translation. The songs with a high degree of romantic intensity include "Er ist gekommen" (he came), setting Ruckert, "Die stille Lotosblume" (The quiet lotus blossom), setting Geibel, and the two versions each of "Ich stand in dunkeln Traumen" (I stand in dark dreams) and "Sie liebten sich beide" (They were both in love) by Heine. Schumann's setting of Heine's "Loreley" reminded me of Schubert's "Erlkonig" with its dramatic pattern of repeated notes in the piano. The settings of Ruckert's "Good Night" and Heine's "Folk song" are among the simpler, lyrical pieces in the collection. The six songs that Schumann set as opus 23 to poems by Hermann Rollett, are primarily about nature and are more uptempo than the remainder of her settings.
Texts of the poetry are not included in the CD, but they are available on the Naxos website. I found this CD precious. Listeners with a passion for art song will love this CD.