Malcolm Martineau’s essential guide to a century of song reaches volume four in a decade dominated by the full flowering of Schumann, but one that shows composers questing for new directions even if, with the exception of Mendelssohn, none of the others here quite deserve a place at the top table.

Decades: A Century of Song Volume 4

1840 is our starting point, and the earlier of Schumann’s two cycles by the name of Liederkreis . The composer’s Op. 24 is a setting of nine songs by Heine on themes of love and despair, the vaguest of cycles, but classic Schumann none the less. Austrian baritone Florian Boesch brings his usual perspicacity to bear on these masterpieces with Martineau, one of his regular collaborators,...

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