THOMAS QUASTHOFF A Romantic Songbook

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THOMAS QUASTHOFF
A Romantic Songbook

Lieder von · Songs by
Carl Loewe · Felix Mendelssohn
Franz Schubert · Robert Schumann
Richard Strauss · Hugo Wolf
Justus Zeyen
Int. Release 01 Apr. 2004
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CD DDD 0289 474 5012 2 GH


Track List

Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Die schöne Müllerin, D. 795

Robert Schumann (1810 - 1856)
Myrthen, op.25

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 - 1847)
12 Lieder, Op.9

Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, Op.34, No.2

Hugo Wolf (1860 - 1903)
Mörike-Lieder

Carl Loewe (1796 - 1869)
Drei Balladen, Op.2

Richard Strauss (1864 - 1949)
Anonymous
Thomas Quasthoff, Justus Zeyen

Total Playing Time 1:19:53

No praise is too high for this superb recital by the German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff. Each song in this Schubert group registers the joy and pain of existence.

Thomas Quasthoff's rich burgundy tones and intense involvement always guarantee a recital out of the ordinary. And everything he does in this mini-conspectus of German Romantic song has character and immediacy. Nothing is taken for granted . . .

Thomas Quasthoffs reiche, sonore Stimme und seine Intensität sind stets Garanten für ein außergewöhnliches Hörerlebnis. Alles in seiner Gestaltung dieses kleinen Überblicks über das deutsche Liedgut der Romantik hat Charakter und Unmittelbarkeit. Nichts wirkt routiniert . . .

Les sonorités riches et colorées de Thomas Quasthoff et son intense engagement garantissent toujours un récital qui sort de l'ordinaire. Et tout ce qu'il fait dans ce petit survol du lied romantique allemand a du caractère et de l'immédiateté. Rien n'est jamais considéré comme acquis d'avance.

On this generous offering, Thomas Quasthoff presents his many admirers with a cornucopia of pleasurable, intelligent music-making in a judiciously varied recital. Such are his gifts as a singer and as an interpreter that one could just sit back and revel in his glorious voice, his subtle colouring of tone and his virtually infallible technique, but that would be to overlook his astonishing ability to match the varied styles of his chosen composers.

Seine sängerischen und gestalterischen Qualitäten sind so überragend, dass man sich einfach zurücklehnen könnte, um seine herrliche Stimme zu genießen, die subtilen Färbungen, die praktisch unfehlbare Technik. Doch damit würde man seiner erstaunlichen Fähigkeit, sich jeweils genau auf den Stil der so unterschiedlichen Komponisten einzustellen, nicht gerecht.

Ses dons de chanteur et d'interprète sont tels qu'on pourrait se contenter de savourer sa voix somptueuse, ses timbres subtiles et sa technique pratiquement infaillible, mais on risquerait d'oublier son étonnante capacité à s'adapter aux styles variés des compositeurs qu'il a choisis.

This is a real midsummer night's dream of a disc: an album of early to late Romanticism which moves, on wings of song, from intimate Schubertiad to the dramatic performance art of Loewe . . . A warmly resonant acoustic contains the full breadth and depth of Thomas Quasthoff's baritone . . . More of each now, please!

Dies ist ein wahrer Sommernachtstraum von einer CD: ein Album mit Liedern der Romantik, das auf den Flügeln des Gesangs den Bogen von der intimen Schubertiade bis zu dramatischen Loeweballaden schlägt . . . Der warme, volle Klang gibt Thomas Quasthoffs Bariton in seiner ganzen Breite und Tiefe wieder . . . Mehr davon, bitte!

Ce disque est un vrai songe d'une nuit d'été: un album qui traverse l'époque romantique tout entière, qui va, sur les ailes du chant, de la schubertiade intime à l'interprétation dramatique de l'art de Loewe [. . .]. Une acoustique chaude et réverbérante rend toute l'ampleur et la profondeur de la voix de baryton de Thomas Quasthoff [. . .]. Encore un peu, maintenant, s'il vous plaît!

[review by Marc Mandel]: . . . in his previous recital albums for Deutsche Grammophon, which have included music of Brahms, Liszt, and Schubert, the baritone's own insightful communicativeness and beauty of sound have been meaningfully matched and paralleled by that of his collaborating pianist Justus Zeyen. Such is the case, too, in their most recent offering, which finds the bass-baritone at his most "gemütlich", enjoying himself in a recital designed quite specifically (the notes tell us) to please himself as much as his listeners with a mix of the mostly familiar . . . It's all there: the aforementioned beauty of sound; extraordinarily and consistently clear diction; a wide variety of nuance in response to the words and the harmonies to which they're set; and the ability to communicate deep-seated emotions as well as balladic storylines of varying character.
[review by Barry Brenesal]: The voice as displayed on this latest album is an appealing if not distinctive one, and perfectly even throughout its extensive range . . . Quasthoff possesses excellent enunciation and exemplary legato. There is no breath audible in the emission. He almost loses the tonal center of a syllable in the emotional climax of a piece, and at all times gives the impression of a singer who believes the drama can be conveyed within the framework of the music . . . further indication o how far Quasthoff has come in developing a naturally strong talent.

Quasthoff's rich burgundy tones and intense involvement always guarantee a recital out of the ordinary . . . If you doubt that sung German can be a beautiful language, Quasthoff is the singer to convince you otherwise.

. . . Liedsänger von Weltformat . . Seine Stimme, deren Umfang von den nachtschwarzen Tiefen des Baßregisters bis in die leuchtenden Höhen eines Verdi-Baritons reicht, macht Thomas Quasthoff zu einem herausragenden Lied-Interpreten. Doch nicht nur der betörende Schöngesang des deutschen Baßbaritons wird von Kritikern geschätzt und vom Publikum geliebt, auch seine gestalterische Intensität und sein gewaltiger Ausdruckswille prädestinieren ihn zum Ausnahmekünstler . . . seine preisgekrönte Stimme, Triumph der Kunst über die Beschränkungen des Lebens . . . heraus: Liedgesang vom Feinsten.

. . . a world-class lieder singer . . . His voice alone - which extends from the pitch-black depths of the bass register to the gleaming heights of a Verdi baritone - would suffice to make Thomas Quasthoff an outstanding lieder interpreter. But it's not just the German bass-baritone's beguilingly beautiful singing that critics laud and audiences love: the intensity and expressive power of his interpretations ensure his exceptional artistic status . . . his celebrated voice, the triumph of art over life's limitations . . . lieder singing of the finest quality.

Un chanteur de lieder de rang international [. . .]. Sa voix, qui s'étend des noires profondeurs du registre de basse aux sommets lumineux du baryton verdien, fait de Thomas Quasthoff un interprète exceptionnel du lied. Mais ce n'est pas seulement la belle voix du baryton-basse allemand qu'apprécient les critiques et qu'aime le public: l'intensité et la force expressive de ses interprétations le prédestinent à être un artiste d'exception [. . .]. Des lieder chantés à la perfection.

Er stellt seine eigene Persönlichkeit ganz in den Dienst von Musik und Text. Das Artifizielle will er ausklammern, seine Zuhörer durch Wahrhaftigkeit erreichen . . . Im letzten Jahr debütierte er auf der Opernbühne -- und riss sein Publikum zur Begeisterung hin.

Quasthoff artikuliert und phrasiert, wie man perfekter, disziplinierter kaum phrasieren und artikulieren kann. Traumwandlerisch sicher erkundet sein resonanzreicher, bisweilen fast zärtlicher Bass-Bariton alle erdenklichen Klangräume, und das Klavier scheint zu jedem Liebesdienst, jedem Verschmelzungsakt bereit.

Quasthoff's articulation and phrasing could hardly be more perfect and disciplined. With instinctive assurance his bass-baritone voice - ranging from richly resonant to delicately tender - probes all imaginable timbres, and the piano faithfully seconds every labour of love, every melting gesture.

L'articulation et le phrasé de Quasthoff ne sauraient guère être plus parfaits et plus distingués. Avec une assurance instinctive, sa voix de baryton-basse - qui va des plus riches résonances à la tendre délicatesse - sonde tous les espaces sonores imaginables.


Es wäre dies die passende CD, um sie ins All zu senden und Außerirdischen einen Begriff vom deutschsprachigen Liedgut zu geben.

This would be the ideal CD to send into space to give extra-terrestrials an idea of the glory of German lieder.

Ce serait le CD parfait à envoyer dans l'espace pour donner aux extra-terrestres une idée de la richesse du lied allemand.

beispielhaft in der Diktion, farbenreich intoniert, immer verständlich -- und verständnisvoll.

Das Programm kommt in seiner facettenreichen Mischung dem vokalen Farbenreichtum und der Ausstrahlung des Sängers entgegen.

Klassik-CD des Monats . . . Ein packendes Hörereignis, brillant begleitet von Justus Zeyen, in feiner Balance zwischen Stimme und Piano -- und toller Klangqualität . . . Kaum ein Bass-Bariton vereint so perfekt durchlebte Leidenschaft und kultivierten Ton.

Classical CD of the Month . . . a gripping listening experience, brilliantly accompanied by Justus Zeyen, with a fine balance between voice and piano - and superb sound quality . . . Hardly another bass-baritone so perfectly unites passion born of experience with cultivated tone.

CD classique du mois [. . .]. Une expérience auditive captivante, brillamment accompagnée par Justus Zeyen, avec un bel équilibre entre voix et piano - et une qualité sonore superbe [. . .]. Il n'est guère d'autre baryton-basse qui unisse si parfaitement la passion née de l'expérience et le raffinement du timbre.

Seit er bei der Deutschen Grammophon veröffentlicht, wirken die Platten auch sorgfältiger produziert, er singt freier, ohne Verspanntheit . . . mit großem Geschmack und vorzüglicher Diktion.

Since he began at Deutsche Grammophon, his recordings seem to be more carefully produced, he sings more freely, without any tension . . . with impeccable taste and diction.

Depuis qu'il a commencé à enregistrer pour Deutsche Grammophon, ses disques semblent produits avec plus de soin; il chante plus librement, sans aucune tension [. . .], avec beaucoup de goût et une diction impeccable.

Es ist in jedem Lied unüberhörbar, dass beide sich nahezu blind verstehen und in diesem Verständnis im besten Sinn des Wortes miteinander "spielen".

. . . ob verinnerlichte Liebesklage, expressive Dramatik oder gar vokales Theater: Immer ist Thomas Quasthoff Herr der Lage und Herr über seine Stimme, die ihm folgt, wohin er will . . . Das ist die eine Seite von Quasthoffs Lied-Kunst. Die andere ist die überragende Beherrschung der Sprache, einerseits rein sprechend als großer Deklamator, anderersetis aber als intelligenter Gestalter, der auch zwischen den Zeilen liest und es versteht, solcherart gewonnene Bedeutungsnuancen wiederum in sein Singen einzubeziehen.

Alle Wege führen nach Rom, nur der tiefere Weg führt zur Romantik. Bei Thomas Quasthoff ist das weder als herzinnigliche Seelenbeschau noch als alberne Stimmlagensymbolik zu verstehen, sondern als Ausdrucksqualität: Etwas existenziell Brisantes, Aufbegehrendes säumt seinen romantischen Weg . . . Eine große Stimme trifft auf ebenso große sängerische Intelligenz -- und nicht zuletzt auf Justus Zeyens exzellentes, ebenbürtiges Klavierspiel.

. . . L'ensemble n'en confirme pas moins l'extraordinaire personnalité de ce chanteur hors du commun, ici fidèlement accompagné par Justus Zeyen.

The whole recording also confirms what an extraordinary personality this unusual singer is, here faithfully accompanied by Justus Zeyen.

Das Ganze bestätigt zudem die außergewöhnliche Persönlichkeit dieses Ausnahmesängers, der in Justus Zeyen hier einen zuverlässigen Begleiter hat.

. . . un "florilège" . . .

. . . a superlative collection . . .

. . . eine Sammlung vom Feinsten . . .

Voz baritonal, oscura, flexible, de buena extensión, sólida en graves, amplia en el médium, clara en agudos, de timbre cálido y coloreado. Excelente y muy nítida dicción, fraseo de magnífica lógica musical, variado e imaginativo. Adecuada regulación de intensidades: aplicación canónica de medias voces y falsetes. Son características, virtudes reconocibles del arte de este cantante alemán que aquí, en este disco, quedan estupendamente plasmadas. ... Lo más destacable es la manera en la que el barítono va repartiendo, dentro de un estilo muy pulcro, los efectos; siempre elegantemente y con intachable musicalidad. Encontramos algunas interpretaciones que nos remiten a lo más alto de la historia fonográfica del lied y que nos demuestran que Quasthoff es un digno heredero de los grandes ... Pero cuenta con un espléndido legato, tan bien modelado como el que en tiempos aplicaba Rehkemper, y sabe decir con una suavidad y una dulzura que sólo Dieskau había descubierto. ... es un gran disco.
    “The straightest way to the heart"

Thomas Quasthoff sings lieder by
Schubert, Schumann, Loewe, Mendelssohn, Wolf, and Strauss

Even as late as the early years of the 20th century, it was still customary for singers to choose a selection of songs by the most varied composers for their recitals, producing a compilation that was quite literally the best of the bunch. This custom may have been the final offshoot of the “grand vocal and instrumental concerts" that had started at the beginning of the 19th century and that included old and new, secular and sacred, songs and operatic excerpts, symphonic movements and fragments of sonatas, orchestral and chamber works performed in random sequence and lasting several hours, the whole exercise based on the conviction of the earliest freelance impresarios that there was only one thing that a paying audience would not tolerate: boredom. As we know, this earlier view of music has now been superseded, so that today's concerts are tailored monothematically to a particular composer or genre. Only complete symphonies are performed, only complete song cycles are sung. And whenever the old idea of a potpourri raises its Papageno-like head, either on Classic FM or on certain “Light Classics" lifestyle compilations, singers immediately incur the suspicion that the sacred cows of music have been torn limb from limb for base commercial reasons and turned into a muzak stew. Only in two cases is a random selection of songs still acceptable: either when a young artist gives his or her début or an established singer bids farewell with a series of encores.

But for Thomas Quasthoff neither of these exceptions applies: he made his début some years ago, and there is certainly nothing valedictory about this new album of his. As one of the world's leading bass-baritones, he has no need to prove himself any longer in terms of his versatility or charisma, to say nothing of his technique and the wealth of nuances that he brings to his singing, whether as a lieder recitalist, oratorio singer or, most recently, as an opera singer, too. So why has he suddenly chosen to follow up two monothematic albums - the first devoted to German operatic arias, the second to Schubert's Goethe settings - with a programme as varied as any that might have been found at the end of the 19th century? He himself gives two good old-fashioned reasons: first, he is responding to an oft-repeated wish on the part of his public, and secondly he is attracted by the idea of trying out the most varied vocal colours and shades: “I made sure that the mixture is right and that it suits my voice." Moreover, the lieder tradition since Schubert is by no means as monochromatic as is often claimed. The German art song exists in various forms: it may be strophic or through-composed or it may strike a folklike tone. And it may take the form of a cavatina, romance, ode, rhapsody, or ballad. As the German musicologist Carl Dahlhaus once pointed out, the term “song" turns out to be a “collective noun" when examined more closely. “Any attempt to grasp the historical character of the Schubertian lied, for example, must set out from this multiplicity of different traditions, not from the uniform idea of a song."

Everything begins with Schubert. His six hundred or so lieder, written within the space of only eighteen years, are regarded as the epitome of the art of lieder writing in general. Around seventy of them are settings of poems by Goethe, although few of them reflect Goethe's own aesthetic approach to lieder. Even as late as 1824 the Leipzig Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung was still complaining that “Herr Schubert does not write songs, properly speaking, and has no wish to do so, but free vocal pieces, some so free that they might possibly be called caprices or fantasies." Schubert's setting of Goethe's Heidenröslein is a strophic song in a major tonality that comes closest to striking a folksong-like tone and is one of Schubert's few lieder to which Johann Georg Sulzer's older definition of the song might still be applied. According to Sulzer, a song “should find the straightest way to the heart by means of a very brief and simple melody". But this is no longer true of Die Forelle, a no less popular work that was written only a short time afterwards in 1817. The brook babbles and the fish darts through the water - so far, so good. But the third strophe then breaks out of this regular structure and casts the dramatic events surrounding the fish's loss of freedom as something akin to an accompanied recitative. The same is true of the outburst of pain in the third strophe of Auf der Bruck (1825), a setting of an equestrian poem by Ernst Schulze that gallops along in pounding octaves. Here, as in the delightful ritornello form of another Schulze setting, Im Frühling (1826), two strophes of the poem are combined to form a single strophe in the song. The static chordal accompaniment and narrow range of Schubert's setting of Carl Lappe's Im Abendrot (1825) invests the song with an almost preghiera-like quality, while the arioso-like intensity of the conjurational melody - anticipated in the piano motto - of his setting of Uhland's Frühlingsglaube (1822) likewise reveals operatic features. The music has now taken over the text, leading to the supersession of an aesthetic that regarded through-composition as “reprehensible" (to quote Goethe) inasmuch as it meant that the composer betrayed the lyrical character of the poem. “Songs are miniature operas," says Thomas Quasthoff. “This is true of most songs by Schubert but also of those that were written later. And I am convinced that even purely strophic songs such as Ungeduld from Die schöne Müllerin are misinterpreted if the singer performs every strophe in an equally beautiful manner. There's so much that a singer can make of this song, bringing out the speechlessness and introducing an element of breathlessness into his singing. Ultimately, lieder are not a form of high art that involves merely passing on a traditional concept of beauty. Rather, these songs are concerned with the truth of human emotion."

The reference to “miniature operas" is particularly true of the narrative form of the ballad in which the singer sometimes has to perform different roles involving direct speech. A ballad has as many as three components, containing, as it does, not only epic and lyrical elements but also, and above all, dramatic and sometimes even comic ones. Carl Loewe, who was the same age as Schubert and who was gifted with a powerful and well-trained singing voice, invested this subclass of the genre with dramatic weight, tone-painterly realism, and such a powerfully pictorial wealth of colours that it is difficult to understand why his ballads are regarded as out-dated and have virtually disappeared from our concert halls at a time when we have become used to listening with our eyes. It does not have to be Die Uhr, a song popular with Biedermeier audiences. Herr Oluf (1821) and Tom der Reimer (1860) could certainly find an appreciative audience in an age when the world of the cinema is peopled with goblins, elves, and evil spirits and draws on history and long-lost legends. Robert Schumann's extremely popular ballad Belsatzar is a setting of a poem by Heinrich Heine and was first published in 1846. Thomas Quasthoff has placed it in the context of three other songs by Schumann, Widmung (Rückert), Freisinn (Goethe), and Du bist wie eine Blume (Heine), all of which, like Belsatzar, date from 1840, the composer's “year of song", when he not only wrote a large number of lieder but reexamined and redefined the Romantic song aesthetic. These three brief songs from Myrten afford striking proof of the way in which Schumann took up and developed the integral blend of words and music, piano writing, and vocal line that Schubert had already adumbrated, producing a symbiosis in the shape of formally perfect snapshots and flawlessly polished miniatures that create the effect of a unified whole. One of Schumann's friends, the editor Franz Brendel, once aptly described these songs as “a continuation of his character-pieces for the piano".

Shortly before the end of the 19th century the art song once again - and unforeseeably - underwent a further sublimation in the uniquely inspired and at the same time hermetically sealed world of Hugo Wolf's late songs, in which the musician's identification with the poet's words is complete. Not for the first time in his life, Thomas Quasthoff has swum against the tide of fashion and only now that the celebrations to mark the centenary of Wolf's death are over has he chosen to enter this world with three selected “Mörikeana" from 1888. He has also discovered for himself two magical songs by Mendelssohn, one of which - Frühlingsglaube - allows us to draw a direct comparison with Schubert in terms of their composers' respective aesthetics. And Richard Strauss, whose op. 10 set of songs was written three years before Wolf's creative assault on Mörike, is another composer whose lieder have been absent from Quasthoff's repertory until now. These are conventional but inspired “hits" that immediately found “the straightest way to the heart", with the result that they were soon being widely disseminated. (The line from Allerseelen, “Wie einst im Mai" - “as once in May" - has acquired a life of its own in German satirical usage.)

The fact that kitsch is involved here is something that Thomas Quasthoff is only too happy to concede. But when properly sung, even kitsch can convey an element of truth. “Kitsch is first and foremost a question of style, one shouldn't take it too far. But it's also a question of what the singer makes of it. In my lieder recitals I try to use my voice as an instrument different from all others. An oboe always sounds like an oboe. A violin always sounds like a violin. What is so exciting about the human voice is that it can have so many different colours. Sometimes a smile is enough, or the thought of a smile, and the sound then changes."

Eleonore Büning

    Thomas Quasthoff - Chronology

1959  Born in Hildesheim, Germany
1972  Begins musical studies in Hanover: singing with Prof. Charlotte Lehmann, music theory and history with Prof. Ernst Huber-Contwig
1988  Wins first prize at the ARD International Music Competition in Munich
1996  Wins Shostakovich Prize in Moscow and Hamada Trust/Scotsman Festival Prize in Edinburgh; begins appointment as professor in the vocal department of Detmold Musikhochschule, Germany
1998  Wins Echo Prize, awarded by the German media; appearances during the 1998/99 concert season include his New York recital début, Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Sir Colin Davis, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Boston Symphony under Seiji Ozawa, Brahms's German Requiem with the Chicago Symphony and Daniel Barenboim (in Chicago and Berlin), Mozart arias with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle, Berlioz's Damnation of Faust with the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Bernard Haitink
1999  Signs exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon; first release: Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn (with Anne Sofie von Otter and Claudio Abbado conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker), which is awarded a Grammy in 2000; his summer appearances include débuts at the Ravinia, Tanglewood, and Mostly Mozart (Lincoln Center) festivals; highlights of the 1999/2000 concert season include his Carnegie Hall début in Britten's War Requiem with the Boston Symphony and Ozawa, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony under Rattle with both the Wiener Philharmoniker and the City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras, Brahms's Requiem with the London Philharmonic under Kurt Masur, European and US recital tours
2000  Deutsche Grammophon releases include lieder by Brahms and Liszt (with pianist Justus Zeyen), which wins Cannes Classical Award in 2001, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (with Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker)
2001  CD release of Schubert's Schwanengesang and Brahms's Four Serious Songs (with Justus Zeyen), winner of Echo Award; at the Berlin Philharmonie performs and records German Romantic arias with Christian Thielemann and the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper; other concert appearances include Schoenberg's Gurrelieder with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Rattle in Berlin and Mahler's Wunderhorn with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Abbado at Carnegie Hall, New York
2002  DG release of German Romantic arias with Thielemann; his concert appearances this year include Schumann's Scenes from “Faust" under Abbado (in Berlin and Salzburg) and Bach's St. John Passion under Rattle, both with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Mahler song cycles with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester of Berlin under Kent Nagano at the Barbican Centre, London, Bach cantatas with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at various venues in the USA and with the Berlin Baroque Soloists at the Salzburg Easter Festival, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius in Munich with the Bavarian State Opera Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta, Mahler's Wunderhorn songs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Hollywood Bowl and Edinburgh Festival, Haydn's Creation with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, recital tours of Europe and the US
2003  This year's appearances include his first opera engagement, in Beethoven's Fidelio (as Don Fernando) with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle in Berlin and at the Salzburg Easter Festival; concerts include Mahler's Wunderhorn songs with the Hamburg Philharmonic and Ingo Metzmacher, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt, Haydn's Seasons with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Rattle, Mahler's Wayfarer songs with the Wiener Philharmoniker under Boulez (also recorded by DG); recital tours include Vienna's Musikverein and Konzerthaus, New York's Carnegie Hall, Brussels' Théâtre de la Monnaie, and the Verbier and Edinburgh festivals; CD release of Schubert songs orchestrated by famous composers (with Anne Sofie von Otter, Claudio Abbado, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe - Grammy 2004 “Best Vocal Performance")
2004  This year will see his Vienna State Opera début (as Amfortas in Wagner's Parsifal, under Donald Runnicles) and his first Salzburg Festival lieder recital; other appearances to include Mahler's Rückert-Lieder with Seiji Ozawa and Schoenberg's Gurrelieder under Mariss Jansons, both with the Wiener Philharmoniker, Frank Martin's Jedermann Monologue with Abbado and the Berliner Philharmoniker, Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, Mahler's Kindertotenlieder with Myung-Whun Chung and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio-France, and with Eschenbach and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; in April DG releases A Romantic Songbook, featuring lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Loewe, Wolf, and Richard Strauss (with Justus Zeyen); in October Thomas Quasthoff will move from Detmold to Berlin to teach at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler
2005  Plans include further Parsifal performances at the Vienna State Opera (under Rattle), Bach arias in Amsterdam with Ton Koopman and the Amsterdam Baroque Soloists, the B minor Mass in Zurich and on tour in Frankfurt, Vienna, and Athens with the Zürich Opera Orchestra under Welser-Möst, who will also conduct performances of Elijah with Quasthoff and the Wiener Philharmoniker; recitals in Amsterdam, Vienna, Florence, Milan, Paris, Zürich, and London with accompanists including Daniel Barenboim and András Schiff