Matthias Goerne b-bar, Leif Ove Andsnes p
Harmonia Mundi HMM902353
Head and heart: Matthias Goerne and Leif Ove Andsnes wed voice and piano in equal doses of drama and poetry
In Schumann’s world, everything seems to be upside down. It’s very exciting because you feel there is something not in the right place and sense this enormous tension between the music and the text. – Matthias Goerne
His 12-disc traversal of Schubert’s songs done and dusted, German bass-baritone Matthias Goerne turns to unfinished business with Robert Schumann to revisit the Op. 24 Heinrich Heine Liederkreis and offer his first recording of the dozen Op. 35 poems by Justinus Kerner.
In the company of the elegant but incisive Leif Ove Andsnes, Goerne’s 51-year-old voice has changed. Darker hues impinging on the centre and around the edges of his still beautiful, burnished and flexible baritone suggest the increasing gravity of encroaching years. But there is also a markedly more controlled and meticulously measured modulation to the voice here, a quality that speaks of greater maturity and feeling for both music and text. Both cycles were products of 1840, Schumann’s remarkable “Liederjahr” – the prodigious “year of song” during which the composer produced around 150 such works.
Goerne is in characteristically poetic and ardent mood in the Liederkreis, where Andsnes’ finger-tip-delicate fluidity allows room for expressive manoeuvre and nuance. Cut from the same cloth, the Kernerlieder are dyed with a more intensely contrasted colour palette, Goerne perfectly capturing the soul-bearing earnestness and elation of young love – and its agitated agony at desire denied. Andsnes is no less revealing in conjuring the variegated states of nature (from tempestuous storm to becalmed, sunlit brook) that echo Goerne’s ever-shifting kaleidoscope of emotions.