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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Mystische Balladen und Lieder
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Erlkönig

Christian Elsner (tenor) Hartmut Höll (piano)
Der Jüngling auf dem Turme

Franz Hawlata (bass) Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Der König in Thule

Mitsuko Shirai (soprano) Hartmut Höll (piano)
Der Zwerg

Christian Elsner (tenor) Hartmut Höll (piano)
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)

Gesang Weylas

Mitsuko Shirai (soprano)/Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin/David Shallon
Carl LOEWE (1796-1869)

Der König auf dem Turne

Franz Hawlata (bass) Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Der Totentanz

Hermann Prey (baritone) Michael Endres (piano)
Der Zauberlehrling

Hermann Prey (baritone) Michael Endres (piano)
Die Jungfrau und der Tod

Juliane Banse (soprano) Franz Hawlata (bass) Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Erlkönig

Hermann Prey (baritone) Michael Endres (piano)
Charles Martin LOEFFLER (1861-1935)

La cloche fêlée

Mitsuko Shirai (soprano) Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Hartmut Höll (piano)
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)

Un Mitternacht

Mitsuko Shirai (soprano) Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Neville Marriner
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)

Winterlied Op.19a No.3

Josef Protschka (tenor) Helmut Deutsch (piano)
Hermann REUTTER (1900-1985)

Sappho No.IV

Mitsuko Shirai (soprano) Tabea Zimmermann (viola) Hartmut Höll (piano)
Arnold SCHOENBERG (1874-1951)

Jane Grey – Ballade Op.12 No.1
Mitsuko Shirai (soprano) Hartmut Höll (piano)
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Die Loreley

Mitsuko Shirai (soprano) Hartmut Höll (piano)
No recording locations or details; some released in co-production with Bayerischer Rundfunks
CAPRICCIO 67 103 [71.42]



Some but by no means all these performances are issued in co-production with Bayerischer Rundfunks. Given the provenance of a large number of other Capriccio releases that I’ve reviewed lately all are likely to come from radio broadcasts. As a result the acoustic is just a shade dry but the performances are anything but and the roster of musicians will serve notice as to the high interpretative level involved. The programme is self-explanatory, given the title of the album, which is just as well as there are no notes, only texts in German and English (and French in the solitary case of the Loeffler). By a well-nuanced programming decision – which can’t be unique – we begin and end with Erlkönig – in settings by Schubert and also by Loewe. Both composers are in any case central to this mixed recital.

Soprano Mitsuko Shirai features on just under half the performances and she will be remembered with admiration by those who know her Wolf recordings. If her vibrato may be thought somewhat insistent, then the compensations are of idiomatic control and of the excellent partnerships she has formed with her accompanists. Invariably in a recital of this kind there are noteworthy moments and some less pressing on the collector’s time. If Elsner is strenuous in Schubert’s Erlkönig we can bask in Prey’s honeyed baritone, so mellifluously elegant, so ultimately devastating, in the grotesquery of Loewe’s Der Totentanz. Loeffler’s song brings out the crepuscular, with Zimmermann’s sonorous viola adding depth and gravity to the Baudelaire setting – just one problem here; the viola comes out of the right channel, Shirai and Höll from the left.

One of the disc’s highlights for me was Loewe’s Der König auf dem Turne, a strophic setting of pure beauty – and I’ll forgive Hawlata and Deutsch for omitting the second and fourth verses so wonderfully do they do it. I had to check Hermann Reutter’s dates as I listened to his setting – though he died in 1995 this one could have been written almost by a contemporary of Loewe. Elsewhere the solitary Schoenberg and Mahler go well.

An outright recommendation is really dependent on particular attachment to one or other of these singers – or maybe to the ballad and mystical tradition embodied by these composers’ settings. Mind you I’d tramp through a goodly number of shepherd strewn Schubertian fields to listen to Der König auf dem Turne.

Jonathan Woolf


 
 



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