Schubert: Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe. Lieder from Samuel Hasselhorn and Joseph Middleton

An immensely satisfying disc

Schubert: Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe. Lieder from Samuel Hasselhorn and Joseph Middleton

Released on May 6, 2022, this is a wonderful showcase for the talents of the young baritone Samuel Hasselhorn, while  Joseph Middleton at the piano adds his experienced, ever-enlightening touch to create a miraculous combination of talent.

Baritoine Samuel Hasselhorn has the most fabulous voice: rounded, strong, expressive. He has taken three “central states of the human condition,” faith, hope and love, and shown us how they are encapsulated in Schubert's sternal Lieder. All three are, it could easily be argued, necessary right now. Here's a very brief intro video from Harmonia Mundi:

This particular Schubertiad begins with Schubert's only setting of a text by Christoph Kupner (1780-1846), the poem that gives the disc its title and one inspired by Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians (1:13), in which hope illuminates the path fo duty. Hasselharn's strong performance cedes to a Schiller setting: the rather more famous Sehnsucht, D 636, a song described by the booklet notes as of dynamic nostalgia. Certainly there is this, but yearning for a far away place (in this case, the sun-drenched Med) is another aspect.

The variety here is remariable, the songs unified by their profundity and ability to speak directly to us across time. The sheer depth of Lied eines Schuffers an die Doskuren, D 360 (text Mayrhofer) is remarkable, as is the relentlessness of Todesgräbers Heimweh, D 842 (listen to Middleton's ability to create myriad colours on ths piano in this latter!).

The song Erlkönig (D 328) will need no introduction, and it appears here in a well-differentiated performance, with Hasselhorn delineating the various voices - father, son, Erlkönig) well. What's really interesting is that it appears in near-proximity to Der Zwerg, D 771, another multi-voice setting (text there Matthäus von Collin as opposed to Goethe). Der Zwerg deserves far more exposure than it normally receives - it si magnificent, and Middleton captures the sense of the movement of teh ship in his opening bars. Hasselhorn's way with vocal line is more dramatic it could be argued than, say, Jessye Norman in her classic recording. A song of denied love and threatened murder, it speaks viscerally.

Hasselhorn and Middleton fillow that with this beauty: the song Des Fischers Liebesglück, D 933, which is seen here in a most artful video from Harmonia Mundi:

Hasselhorn's dction is an absolute joy in this song even more than elsewhere: the melding of line and word is perfect.

The programming of this disc is just about perfect, as is the sense of the transcendental Hasselhorn and Middleton bring to everything they touch: heard like this, Auf dem Wasser zu singen sound like the perfect prolongation of Des Fischers Liebesglück (and how beautifully the performers differentiate the stanzas). Perfect, too, to end with the sequence Nacht und Träume (Hasselhorn's legato here an absolute wonder)- Abschied - Abschied von der Erde.  To end with the spoken recitation of Abschied von der Erde against Schubert's exquisite piano writing is poignant indeed.

An immensely satisfying  disc. Two booklets, too: enlightening essays in one, full texts and French/English translations in the other. Don't hesitate.