The German bass baritone Matthias Goerne must spend most of his professional life in recording studios at the moment. Over the past two years, around a dozen of his albums have been released or reissued, including plenty of Schubert and Brahms, as well as music by Berio, a complete Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and his ongoing Ring project with Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. He has also returned to the songs of Schumann with this excellent Harmonia Mundi album Einsamkeit, which covers some of the same ground as his 2004 Decca release with pianist Erich Schneider.
Goerne has matured into one of the most in-demand and compelling singers amongst an impressive field of bass and baritone Lieder specialists, his warm, full and dark timbre ideal for this thoughtful collection covering the full span of Schumann’s output, from Myrthen – his 1840 wedding gift to Clara – to Abenlied, written some 12 years later.
Goerne is also making his recording debut with Italian-born Austrian pianist Markus Hinterhauser and their musical chemistry is immediately apparent from the seductive opening track Meine Rose. The duo made a huge impression when they performed Schubert’s Winterreise in last year’s Sydney Festival. Their partnership is nowhere more effective than in the five Op. 90 songs that start the collection (the first is omitted), culminating in the Requiem, at first gentle but building to an impassioned climax before subsiding into the consolatory final bars.
Goerne’s ability to inhabit a song and his subtle vocal palette have been admired over his 20-year career, but he is also able to thrill, especially when he opens his chest in Ins Freie, the cry of a stir crazy man who has to get out the house, or in Wilfried von der Neun’s descriptions of a stormy night sky. This collection of settings by Heine, Rückert and Goethe, among others, comes highly recommended.