Review By Göran Forsling,MusicWeb International,October 2008
A couple of the songs here are among the more frequently performed ones and they invite comparison. I have never heard Rainer Trost as Lieder singer but know him well in other capacities. On disc he was a splendid Camille on Gardiner’s Die lustige Witwe almost fifteen years ago and I have heard him as a leading Mozart singer. All of this is an excellent background for success in Lieder, where lyrical warmth and ability to express nuance are essential. The first track, Fischerweise, introduces him as a rather powerful singer but also an elegant and sensitive one. His voice has bite and character which makes him stand out from a lot of able but rather pale competitors. His approach is vivacious and fresh and his enunciation is clear. His phrasing is
There are two songs entitled Abschied, D.475 a setting of words by his friend Mayrhofer, D.578 to a text by himself. Both songs are melancholy but beautiful and Trost is at his lyrical best here. The final two songs are settings of texts by Johann Senn, another friend, who was sent to prison for fourteen months and then banished to the Tyrol. Schubert was never to see him again and the death symbolism of Schwanengesang (tr. 15)—nothing to do with the group of songs published after Schubert’s death—may well be ‘a metaphor for the enforced silence of his exiled friend’ as Ulrich Eisenlohr puts it in his notes. The song as such is a captivating farewell.
The most remarkable work on this disc is however Einsamkeit D.620 (tr. 5), lasting for almost 18 minutes and in effect a song cycle in six sections, variable in moods but still coherent. It has a very active piano part and calls for dramatic singing, sometimes in recitative style, as well as intimate lyrical moments. Schubert thought very highly about it, writing: ‘…the best thing I have done so far.’ This was in 1818, five years before he composed Die schöne Müllerin, and a possible influence may have been Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte. It is certainly a bold composition and Eisenlohr and Trost give it an involved and concentrated performance. The tenor sings with a glow and a plangent tone that recalls Fritz Wunderlich. My only previous version of it is a wartime radio recording issued on a pair of Acanta LPs, coupled with Die Winterreise and sung by Peter Anders. Anders, who started as a lyric tenor, was already moving into heavier roles in the 1940s and was an important Walther in the 1950s. His reading is even stronger than Trost’s, who pushes his beautiful voice too much in some of the climaxes, whereas Anders expands with Heldentenor sheen. Trost is however a sensitive interpreter and this extraordinary work would by itself make the disc desirable.
Good recording and excellent notes. Schubert lovers should find a lot to admire on this disc.