Im Abendrot: Songs by Wagner, Pfitzner, Strauss
German baritone Matthias Goerne’s burnished voice is perfect for this collection of rich, late-Romantic Austro-German songs. Nowhere is this more evident than in the dark, sensual harmonies of Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, forerunner to his great operatic masterpiece, Tristan und Isolde. There’s beauty and anguish, too, in the songs by Richard Strauss—the jubilant “Morgen!” (“Tomorrow!”) and valedictory “Im Abendrot” (“At Sunset” from Four Last Songs), for instance, are especially heartbreaking. The real discovery here, however, are Pfitzner’s songs on themes of love and loss. Abundantly expressive and melodically compelling, his swirling “Stimme der Sehnsucht” (“Voice of Longing”) is a haunting, troubled portrait of mental torment. Seong-Jin Cho is a superb piano partner whose playing has an orchestral depth without ever dominating.