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Andre Schuen and Daniel Heide release: Franz Schubert - Schwanengesang

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Baritone Andrè Schuen hails from La Val in Ladin (South Tyrol, Italy), where he grew up speaking three languages - Ladin, Italian and German, a versatility that is reflected in his current vocal repertoire. After many years of playing the cello as his main instrument, he decided to study singing at the University Mozarteum Salzburg with Prof. Horiana Branisteanu, as well as Lied and Oratorio with Prof. Wolfgang Holzmair. After his studies, Andrè Schuen was an ensemble member of the Graz Opera. Today he is at home on the major opera, concert and song stages worldwide.

In the field of opera, Andrè Schuen is highly sought after by internationally important opera houses such as the Bavarian State Opera, the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Teatro Real Madrid. In the current season he will assume the role of Conte in the new production of Mozart's Nozze di Figaro at the Vienna State Opera (conducctor: Philippe Jordan/director: Barrie Kosky). For the first time, he will embody two Wagner roles: Heerrufer in the new production of Lohengrin at the Bavarian State Opera (François-Xavier Roth/Kornél Mundruczo) and his debut as Wolfram in Tannhäuser at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Sebastian Weigle/Sasha Waltz) in May. He is also a regular guest in opera productions at major festivals such as Salzburg or Aix-en-Provence, most recently in the title role of Nozze di Figaro (Lotte de Beer/Thomas Hengelbrock) at the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte (Christof Loy/ Joana Mallwitz) at the Salzburg Festival.

In concert Andrè Schuen made his debut at the Lucerne Festival with Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra under

Andrè Schuen is internationally acclaimed for his recordings. Since 2021, the Ladin baritone has been an Exclusive Recording Artist for Deutsche Grammophon. After Schubert's Schöne Müllerin, Schwanengesang will be released in November 2022 as part of his exclusive recording of all three Schubert song cycles for the "Yellow Label".

The Weimar-born pianist Daniel Heide is one of the most sought-after song accompanists and chamber musicians of his generation. He studied at the Franz Liszt University in Weimar with Prof. Ludwig Bätzel and received groundbreaking suggestions from Christa Ludwig and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

His extensive concert career takes him throughout Europe and many Asian countries. 

As a song accompanist and chamber music partner, he is a regular guest at renowned festivals such as the Schubertiade Schwarzenberg and Hohenems, the Schubertiada Vilabertran (ES), the Eppaner Liedsommer (IT), the BBC Edinburgh International Festival (GB), the Oxford Lieder Festival (GB), the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival and the Rheingau Music Festival. He has made guest appearances in the most important European concert halls such as the Philharmonie in Berlin, Cologne and Paris, the concert halls in Berlin, Vienna and Dortmund, the Frankfurt Opera, the Prinzregententheater in Munich, the Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Tonhalle in Zurich and the Teatro Zarzuela in Madrid , the Palau de la Música Barcelona, the Børssalen Copenhagen, the international art center deSingel Antwerp and the Muziekcentrum De Bijloke in Gent.

Andrè Schuen’s debut album for Deutsche Grammophon, a moving interpretation of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, received widespread critical acclaim, with Gramophone praising the baritone’s “superb, free-ranging voice, used with taste and invariable sensitivity to the text”. Now Schuen continues his personal journey into the composer’s late, great song cycles with a new recording of Schwanengesang (Swan Song), on which he is joined once more by his longstanding duo partner Daniel Heide, hailed in turn by Gramophone for his “model” accompaniment and “limpid playing”. Heide’s subtle pianism again complements Schuen’s insightful interpretations as together they project the beauty and pathos, drama and despair of the fourteen Schwanengesang Lieder. The album is set for release on 18 November 2022 on CD and digitally, including an immersive Dolby Atmos version.

Schubert completed the last of what would prove to be his final songs just over a month before his death in November 1828. Seven of the poems he chose to set at this time are by Ludwig Rellstab, six by Heinrich Heine and one, (“Die Taubenpost”), by the Austrian polymath Johann Gabriel Seidl. It seems likely that he expected the Rellstab and Heine songs to be published separately; however, the Vienna-based composer and publisher, Tobias Haslinger, aware of their posthumous significance as Schubert’s last musical testament, issued them in 1829 under the title Schwanengesang. 

Andrè Schuen discovered the collection long before he became a professional singer, and was swept away by its contents. “I remember a recording with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau that I played over and over again,” he says, adding that Schwanengesang is still his “greatest love among the Schubert Lieder. Especially the Heine settings.”

This is perhaps because, although Schwanengesang is more compilation than narrative cycle, with the Rellstab songs dealing with different aspects of romantic longing and loss, the outline of a story does emerge in Schubert’s choice of Heine poems. “There are indeed parallels with Die Winterreise and Die schöne Müllerin,” notes the singer. “Here, too, we find an abandoned figure who has left home and forged his way into emotional and psychological borderlands. Sometimes, as in ‘Ihr Bild’, reality and fiction begin to blur.” The Heine songs are also notable for their economy of means, reflecting the sparse style of the poet. “There’s not one note too many!” says Schuen, who has a particular fondness for the melancholy seascape depicted in “Am Meer”. “It’s a perfect symbiosis of words and music, of Heine and Schubert,” he explains. “It’s perhaps my favourite Schubert song altogether.” 

Schuen and Heide developed and refined their interpretation of Schwanengesang in acclaimed recital performances before coming to the Markus-Sittikus-Saal in Hohenems to record the work in March 2021. The baritone is unstinting in his praise for his duo partner: “Not only is he a fantastic pianist, he’s also a seasoned connoisseur of the human voice. To me this makes all the difference, his enthusiasm for colour, for the aesthetic of a voice, always in search of the magical moment and never avoiding risks.”