Classical CD Reviews
Schubert: Lieder – Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano/ Gerold Huber, piano – Harmonia mundi
Published on September 9, 2008
SCHUBERT: Lieder – Bernarda Fink, mezzo-soprano/ Gerold Huber, piano – Harmonia mundi HMC 901991, 75:31 *****:
Bernarda Fink is rapidly ascending to one of the finest mezzo-sopranos in the world today, if indeed she hasn’t already hit the summit. Her voice is highly adaptable to many different styles, from the flamboyant music of her native Argentina, to the dark coloration that undoubtedly comes from Slovenian ancestry, riding along the wave of impeccable German artistry (fluid technique and sensitive emotions when interpreting its romantic poets) needed for Brahms and Schubert, and finally resting in the static but exultant imagery of Berlioz. Few artists today are able to capture the essence of the wide spectrum of musics, but Fink seems to have found a way to manage it, and we are fortunate that Harmonia mundi is expending the necessary effort to canning her art on silver disc, and shining silver at that, judging by the sound of these releases.
Here we get to enjoy around 15 or so of Schubert’s favorite poets (Goethe stands as primary) with a generous smattering of the most popular and/or famous. An Silvia, Gretchen am Spinnrade, Im Fruhling, and Du bist die Ruh all get the royal treatment, with Fink completely attuned to the sometimes feisty and difficult to attain subtleties of the text. The rest of the songs deal with love, suffering, love and suffering, suffering love, melancholy, sorrow–you get the picture. Typically romantic, typically Schubert, and atypically presented with a warmth and grace that is sure to win over the most diehard and critical of Schubert fans.
There are many of these album on the market, and I am not about to elevate this one over the many excellent and favored ones of the past. But I will say that Fink’s voice has an affecting fondness that makes one listen when perhaps the innate familiarity of the music might otherwise lend to distraction. The old becomes new, and the new is perceived in a more favorable light. Of course, Gerold Huber’s discreet and humbling accompaniment surely adds to the success of Fink’s achievement in a manner more significant than I am giving it here. Whatever the mix, it is a tasty one, and a jewel in a very large crown of Schubertian glories.
TrackList: Die Götter Griechenlands D.677, An die Musik D.547, Ganymed D.544, Lied der Mignon op.64/4 Gretchen am Spinnrade D.118, Wonne der Wehmut D.260, Rastlose Liebe D.138, Auf dem See D.543b, Liebe schwärmt auf allen Wegen D.239/6, An Silvia D.891, An die Nachtigall D.196, An den Mond D.193, Nachtviolen D.752, Schlummerlied D.527, Die Sternenwelten D.307, Romanze op.26, Die junge Nonne D.828, Auf der Riesenkoppe D.611, Im Frühling D.882, Sei mir gegrüßt D.741, Daß sie hier gewesen D.775, Du bist die Ruh D.776, Lachen und Weinen D.777, An die untergehende Sonne D.457, Im Abendrot D.799
– Steven Ritter