The salons of 19th-century Vienna come dancing back to life in this collection of vocal duets, trios and quartets, written for the famous Schubertiades, many of which, while he lived, boasted the composer himself at the piano. Lovers of the dark, complex Schubert of Winterreise will look in vain for him here; this is, for the most part, light and undemanding fare, meant more to entertain than to penetrate the soul.
A sprightly vocal quartet enters heartily into the spirit of the thing, sympathetically balanced voices separately and together. Marlis Petersen’s glistening soprano sits sweetly atop the ensemble, while Anke Vondung sings with a soulful glow which keeps her sometimes sugary music from cloying: the strophic, sentimental Die Unterscheidung is a notable example.
Tenor Werner Güra can’t quite match the ladies for beauty of tone, but his forthright, if slightly grainy tone blends touchingly with Vondung’s in Licht und Liebe, the lilting duet from which the album takes its title, and both he and bass Konrad Jarnot make colourful turns in the amorous wranglings of Der Hochzeitsbraten, a comic, almost Mozartian scene which also features a delightfully soubrettish Petersen as the love interest.
The disc concludes with a series of sacred quartets which tone down the chintz of earlier numbers Christoph Berner’s nimble playing is by turns spirited and stately, the distinctive presence of the fortepiano neatly evoking the bygone milieu in which this music flourished.