Schubert: Schwanengesang; Piano Sonata in B Flat D960
Matthias Goerne (baritone), Christoph Eschenbach (piano) Harmonia Mundi HMC 902139.40 (2 CDs) ****
Matthias Goerne and Christoph Eschenbach take a leaf out of Ian Bostridge and Leif-Ove Andsnes’s book by coupling Schubert songs with one of the composer’s piano sonatas. The 14 songs of Schwanengesang, with the contemporaneous Herbst interpolated in the middle, are sung with unfailing beauty and sensitivity, at speeds that are on the slow side and in a manner that’s more than usually veiled with reserve and regret. The air of contemplation also pervades Eschenbach’s tonally gorgeous performance of the late, great Sonata in B flat, here offered on a free, bonus CD. However, the approach is so full of heavy fingerprints – rubato that creates intrusive bulges, and a tempo in the slow movement that threatens to stand still – that it cannot be recommended. The Schwanengesang is the thing.