Following the iconic series of the complete songs of Schubert and Schumann, Graham Johnson further demonstrates the phenomenal depth of his knowledge in the expert programming of this recital. Each disc in the series represents a different journey through the repertoire, and thus through Brahms’s life. This new volume is sensitively balanced, the opening and closing folksong transcriptions possessing beguiling charm and the five songs of Op 49 being performed in their entirety.
Hyperion is thrilled to welcome the young German tenor Simon Bode to the label. At home in the opera house and the recital hall, Bode possesses a controlled voice of great beauty, and gives performances of immediacy and conviction. Johnson, as accompanist, is immaculate and his usual scholarly notes are of course included.
Bode sings [Sehnsucht and the Wiegenlied] with a fine sense of artistry and wonderment. Johnson takes care over his placing of Brahms's many folksong settings within this series, inserting a few at a time. Here, they frame the recital, with Bode's instinctive musicality making an irresistably friendly greeting of 'Wach auf, mein Herzensschone.' BBC ****
His tone is sweet and gently rounded, his diction crystal-clear, his phrasing always thoughtful. Spinning a rapt, sustained lined, he movingly catches the Brahmsian twilit melancholy of 'Abenddammerung'...'Wiegenlied', too, is as dulcet as you could wish, with singer and pianist vindicating a provocatively slumbrous [sic] tempo. Gramophone
Bode has an unquestionably beautiful voice, his line is exquisitely controlled and his care over words and meaning were already evident in the folksong settings...There are marvellous things, such as a wondrously sustained “Es hing der Reif”. Indeed, according to their own lights, all the performances are marvellous...Every Brahmsian quality you could want is here except fullness of heart. MusicWeb