“The recital as a result felt epic: an unpredictable heart of cosmic darkness and strange lights flanked by two Schumann trajectories on the personal level of love found and bitterly, desperately lost in the Op. 24 Liederkreis before the Larcher and Dichterliebe after the interval. I wonder if every singer would allow Drake to dare so much in terms of shock and silence. This Heine protagonist suffers very deeply indeed, to the point of mania: have the beating of the heart equated with a hammering coffin-maker ever struck such trenchant blows before, physical reality rather than metaphor, and who has ever experienced “Ich grolle nicht” (“I don’t complain”), so often excerpted as a conventionally passionate number, delivered with such colossal force and focus? Schuen was in the world of each journey right from the start, expressing emotion so perfectly that it didn’t seem like acting, holding and responding to the mood of the piano codas right through to the long, aching benediction that falls at the end of Dichterliebe. With so many interpreters, even the much-vaunted Lieder-lovers’ delight Christian Gerhaher, falling short of the ideal in one realm or another, for me, at any rate, and Schuen in tandem with Drake reaching what felt like sheer perfection, is it fatuous to hail him as the new Fischer-Dieskau, with an approach and a colour-palette all his own?”

David Nice
The Arts Desk

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