Naxos Classics has just released a nicely engineered Brahms: Complete Songs, Vol. 1, (8574268) which includes over two dozen songs from opus numbers 32, 43, 86 and 105.
At the age of 65, and after a long and distinguished career as a tenor who primarily specialized in concert and oratorio, Christoph Prégardien, now singing as a baritone, continues to cultivate the German Song repertory.
Choosing lower keys does not magically turn a tenor into a baritone, timbre above all else dictates the vocal classification of a singer, but the range of a song and, even more importantly, tessitura – the area in which the music lies – determines what the singer should be doing.
In the case of Prégardien, the lower keys chosen by him for Wie Melodien zieht es mir, Klage, Immer leiser wird mein Schlummer, Klage, Auf dem Kirchhofe, Feldeinsamkeit, Auf dem Kirchhofe, and Wie bist du, meine Königin each and every one of these songs short in length and lyric in mood, serve him well, making few demands on endurance and instead calling for delicacy of utterance and sensitivity, both qualities hallmarks of the tenor’s singing.
Prégardien is equally impressive in the narrative songs, like Verrat, where he mines the words as only the past master he is, extracting every ounce of meaning from the dramatic tale.
We hope that Prégardien will continue to collaborate with Ulrich Eisenlohr, a very fine accompanying pianist. It is also hoped that will continue to provide song translations and program notes in the future.
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