RECORDS / New Releases: Schumann: Dichterliebe, Liederkreis, Op 39. Thomas Quasthoff/Roberto Szidon (RCA Red Seal, CD)

There are times when you wish these songs were anchored in something weightier than Quasthoff's light lyric baritone. But the compensation is finely shaded, clean and focused singing of serious quality, and a voice that doesn't exactly smile - you don't smile often in this repertory except through tears - but shines with the cultivated intelligence of a true lieder specialist. His pianist is careful but supportive. And the standard coupling is given a distinctive edge by the inclusion of Schumann's Romances & Ballads III, Op 54, and the epic narrative Belsatzar. All uncommonly worthwhile.