One of the marvels of English music-making in the past couple of years has been the emergence of Roderick Williams in mid-career as one of the most pleasing lieder baritones of our time. Williams, who is 54, has sung Billy Budd and Don Giovanni among other operatic roles. He is also a composer. But it is in Lieder that he has found a true vocation and his performance of Schubert’s love-struck cycle captures all the colours of a bucolic landscape and the clouds of an unattainable desire.
What I particularly like is that, unlike Fischer-Dieskau for instance, he neither hardens his voice nor raises the volume in order to express anger or frustration. Every shade of emotion is caressed into existence, above the babbling brook and darkening sky of Iain Burnside’s intuitive accompaniment. Throughout the cycle, there is hardly one interprettive decision that I would question. Check out the fourth song – ‘thanks to the brook’ – to catch perhaps the most perfect Schubert singing and pianism of the present time.
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