Related Reviews
MusicWeb International
'This is lieder singing in the highest division! The twelve songs that constitute this cycle...may not have been more beautifully sung in recent times.'
more >>
Das Opernglas
'One does not know what one should admire more about Boesch's interpretation, the extremely beautiful, velvety voice, his subtle interpretation of every word, the ever-natural-sounding singing or his ability to reach the heart of a song...'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
'Boesch's flexible and rich-grained baritone blends with the colourful support of Malcolm Martineau at the piano to offer splendidly characterised accounts...'
more >>
'The interpretations are intriguingly evocative and I cannot remember hearing Mahler's ‘Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen’ this atmospheric.'
more >>
Opera Lounge
'These cycles are indispensable...'
more >>
La Libre Belgique
' exemplary recording due to its poetic, vocal and musical unity...Boesch's voice - powerful, full-bodied...[is] supported on the piano by the brilliant Martineau.'
more >>
CD of the Week: 'Florian Boesch, and the outstanding pianist Malcolm Martineau, use Mahler's piano version to re-interpret the songs in the most refined and precise manner.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 'Record Review'
'...the way he goes from the virile nightly dialogue of “Waldesgesprach” so well characterised to the nocturnal hush and unearthly stillness of “Mondnacht” is extraordinary.'
more >>
Opera Today
'...their Mahler Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen takes excellence to even greater levels.'
more >>
Classical Iconoclast
'Although I've heard dozens of performances over the last 40 years, this took my breath away.'
more >>
'The profound sense of leave-taking in the final Wayfarer song draws some of the most coloristically subtle singing I’ve yet heard from Boesch.'
more >>
The Sunday Times
'Florian Boesch sings with his usual subtlety...He's splendid in the Goethe songs, and in the Mahler...'
more >>
Audiophile Sound
5 Stars
'...there is a sense of rapt concentration, acute emotional involvement and some of the most ravishing sounds you are ever likely to hear from a baritone.'
more >>

Florian Boesch - Schumann - Live - The Arts Desk

11 November 2017
The Arts Desk
Gavin Dixon
4 Stars

Florian Boesch is a big man. He’s tall, stocky, and with his bald head and stubble could seem more like a gangster than a Lieder singer. His voice is beautiful, but it matches his appearance – big, weighty and imposing. He has subtlety too, though it is sometimes hard-won, and his affinity with the core Romantic repertoire is always apparent, so this programme, of Schubert, Wolf and Schumann was well chosen to showcase his strengths.

Schubert’s nature-inspired songs are an ideal platform for the more turbulent and dramatic side of Boesch’s temperament. His voice is strongest in the low register, expansive for the stormy vistas of Der Schiffer, but darker and more intense in the forest evocations of Im Walde. He lacks the support required for some of Schubert’s longer lines, or maybe sacrifices it for immediacy and presence.

That was less of an issue in the Wolf songs, six selections from the Mörike-Lieder. Wolf’s style is more aphoristic, and Boesch has a knack for locating the mood of each short number immediately. His colour and delivery here were quite straightforward, his vibrato-less tone offering a conversational immediacy. But it was difficult to gauge his approach to the more devotional songs, Schlafendes Jesuskind and Gebet. Was the simplicity here deliberately naive, or were singer and composer complicit in some subtle irony? The main work in the programme was Schumann’s Liederkreis, a cycle of Eichendorff settings that run the gamut from isolation and despair to idyllic and Romantically transcendental sensuality. Boesch has a tone and a mode of delivery for every mood. Again, the forest evocations, Waldesgespräch and Im Walde, were particularly atmospheric, though more low key and nocturnal than Schubert’s.

In fact, everything in this cycle was more distant and opaque than the more directly expressive settings of Schubert and Wolf, and Boesch relished that extra layer of Romantic abstraction. His tone wasn’t always elegant, and, in the nocturnal settings, Mondnacht and Zwielicht, he often drained the colour from his voice: the menacing last of line of Zwielicht, “Hüte dich, sei wach und munter!” (Be wary, watchful, on your guard!), was literally spoken under his breath. For Boesch, the words always come first, clearly articulated and expressed in his native German.

In both recital and recording, Boesch is most often heard with accompanist Malcolm Martineau, who was here in the audience. Justus Zeyen is another regular collaborator, and the two clearly have a natural chemistry onstage. I could imagine more poetry and flow from Martineau in this repertoire, but Zeyen was a competent collaborator. He was a little reticent in the Schumann, allowing the sparse figurations to meander.

The Wolf was more convincing, for Zeyen’s ability to weave together the terse harmonies and maintain colour and focus. But he was at his best in the opening Schubert songs, playing with the expressive abandon of a concerto soloist, rightly confident that Boesch would still be heard. Those tempestuous numbers made an excellent opening to this recital, even if the second half revealed Boesch to be more at home in the intimate, twilit world evoked by Eichendorff and Schumann.

Bookmark and Share

Related Links

Florian BoeschFlorian Boesch
Schumann & Mahler: LiederSchumann & Mahler: Lieder