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Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
62 Lieder
18 Goethe-Lieder (1888/9) [52:54]; Sechs Lieder für eine Frauenstimme (1877-82) [14:24]; Die Zigeunerin (1887) [3:05]; 3 Mörike-Lieder (1888) 12:26]; Spanisches Liederbuch songs (1890) [5:14]; Sechs alte Weisen (1890) [12:23]; Italienisches Liederbuch songs (1890) [39:40]; Sonne der Schlummerlosen (1896) [2:42];
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano); Gerald Moore (piano)
rec. London, 1956-62. 2007 digital remasters. ADD.
detailed track-listing below
EMI CLASSICS GREAT RECORDINGS OF THE CENTURY 00946 3 80040 2 8 [71:11 + 80:13] 

 


This recording truly is one of the “Great Recordings of the Century”, as EMI calls this series. Frankly, it is inconceivable that anyone could know Wolf without knowing of these recordings: Schwarzkopf’s performances are landmarks, bringing Wolf to wider, international acclaim. After fifty years, these performances are still shining exemplars, the ne plus ultra, to which all subsequent work will be compared. This recording really is one of those essentials which anyone hoping to appreciate Wolf cannot be without. In fact it was these performances which brought me to Wolf many years ago, and made me study German seriously enough to appreciate the poetry. So perhaps this reissue will inspire someone else on their own lifetime adventure! There will always be new audiences for Wolf and for Schwarzkopf. 

Obviously, only songs for soprano are included, but Wolf had a special affinity for the voice type. Included is the composer’s first published work, Sechs Lieder für eine Frauenstimme. Started when he was 17, they are already surprisingly mature, bearing distinctive elements of his style, for example, lyricism, delicacy and robust character definition. Mausfallensprüchlein shows Wolf’s droll humour, which Schwarzkopf captures with delicious glee. Her diction is so crisp it dances, sparkling like the trills in the piano part. Her deft touch, though, is revealed in the way she colours words with feeling. Each repeated hörst du is defined, and then, with witt, witt, a mock growl injects a frisson of danger, before the final hörst du, sung with such warmth you can almost see Schwarzkopf smiling. And it’s only one song of sixty-two. 

For many, Kennst du das Land is one of the finest songs ever written, and this performance shows why. It’s achingly beautiful, even by Wolf standards. Mignon, the kidnapped orphan sings of her homeland. “Kennst du das Land”, sings Schwarzkopf, with simplicity, making the next phrase “wo die Zitronen blüh’n” soar all the more. Goethe describes the land through images of citrus, myrtle and tall laurels. Wolf sets the words evocatively – “vom blauen Himmel weht”, rising in a gorgeous arc, the music itself lifting upwards towards the heavens. Then Schwarzkopf breathes life into the words. Note the sensuality of her lower register as it wraps around the sensual “dunkeln Laub der Goldorangen” . Then Goethe describes Mignon’s lost home, shining with marble. Wolf picks up on the gleaming imagery, and Schwarzkopf half whispers the muted lines “es glänzt der Saal, es schimmert das Gemach” to evoke the shimmering stillness. Only then comes the full impact of the tragedy, when the statues ask, tenderly, “What have they done to you, poor child?”. Wolf contrasts the gentle contemplation of the main stanzas with the dramatic release of the refrains, underpinned by soaring piano chords. Gerald Moore (1899-1987) is brilliant, mirroring Schwarzkopf’s passionate “Dahin! Dahin!” which subsides into the imploring extended line, ending in the inexpressibly intense longing with which Schwarzkopf infuses the word “zieh’n”. Schwarzkopf and Moore understood Mignon’s personality as depicted in Goethe’s narrative, so there’s no mawkish sentiment here: this Mignon is clear, pure and dignified. Similar lucid grace shapes the other Mignon songs in this group. 

For Wolf, song ennobled itself by association with great poetry. The Wolf aesthetic focuses on deep understanding of the poets he sets and their inner world. He himself described his music as merely an enhancement of great poetry. Ravishingly beautiful as it is, Wolf’s music perhaps demands more appreciation of meaning than most. Every subtle nuance, every shading of emotion matters. If ever there was music that bears repeated, intensive listening, this is it. There was always a dedicated Wolf following in German speaking countries, but access was limited to those who attended recitals and heard broadcasts - recordings of Wolf on early German radio haven’t been easy to come by until recently. Raising money from private subscription – much of it from Japan – Walter Legge embarked on a mission to get singers of the 1930s to record Wolf. As soon as possible after the end of the war, he was in Austria, searching for singers who could sing Wolf well. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (1915-2006) was his ideal match, for her voice was light and flexible enough for the delicacy of Wolf's settings, but she also had the intelligence to understand the mental and emotional challenge of the poetry and music. Despite the ravishing beauty of Wolf’s music, vocal gymnastics are not enough. Thus Legge and Schwarzkopf spearheaded the text-sensitive, intuitive approach we have now to song. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was one of their protégés. Schwarzkopf and Fischer-Dieskau were a team, whose performances together have influenced the way we listen to song to this day. This isn’t just another recording. It’s a piece of history, and exquisitely beautiful.

Anne Ozorio 

Detailed Track-Listing

Disc 1:
1 Goethe-Lieder Mignon I [4:10]
2 Goethe-Lieder Mignon II [2:19]
3 Goethe-Lieder Mignon III [4:10]
4 Goethe-Lieder Philine [3:18]
5 Goethe-Lieder Mignon ('Kennst du das Land?') [6:58]
6 Goethe-Lieder Epiphanias [4:39]
7 Goethe-Lieder Sankt Nepomuks Vorabend [3:10]
8 Goethe-Lieder Der Schäfer [2:22]
9 Goethe-Lieder Blumengrass [1:23]
10 Goethe-Lieder Gleich und gleich [0:54]
11 Goethe-Lieder Die Spröde [2:00]
12 Goethe-Lieder Die Bekehrte [2:51]
13 Goethe-Lieder Frühling übers Jahr [1:58]
14 Goethe-Lieder Anakreons Grab [3:20]
15 Goethe-Lieder Hockbeglückt in deiner Liebe [1:56]
16 Goethe-Lieder Als ich auf dem Euphrat schiffte [1:37]
17 Goethe-Lieder Nimmer will ich dich verlieren [1:12]
18 Goethe-Lieder Ganymed [5:08]
19 6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme Morgentau (anon) [1:41]
20 6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme Das Vöglein (Hebbel) [1:32]
21 6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme Die Spinnerin (Rückert) [2:50]
22 6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme Wiegenlied im Sommer (Reinick) [3:21]
23 6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme Wiegenlied in Winter (Reinick) [3:40]
24 6 Lieder für eine Frauenstimme Mausfallen-Sprüchlein (Mörike) [1:13]
25 Eichendorff Lieder Die Zigeunerin [3:00]

Disc 2:
1 Mörike-Lieder (1888) Im Frühling [5:12]
2 Mörike-Lieder (1888) Elfenlied [1:59]
3 Mörike-Lieder (1888) Auf eine Christblume I [5:15]
4 Spanisches Liederbuch (Anon. transl. Heyse) In dem Schatten meiner Locken [2:28]
5 Spanisches Liederbuch (Anon. transl. Heyse) Wenn du zu den Blumen gehst [2:46]
6 6 Alte Weisen Tretet ein, hoher Krieger [2:52]
7 6 Alte Weisen Singt mein Schatz wie ein Fink [1:10]
8 6 Alte Weisen Du milchjunger Knabe [1:31]
9 6 Alte Weisen Wandl' ich in dem Morgentau [2:70]
10 6 Alte Weisen Das Köhlerweib ist trunken [1:16]
11 6 Alte Weisen Wie glänzt der helle Mond [3:26]
12 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Auch kleine Dinge [2:38]
13 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Mir ward gesagt [2:50]
14 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Wer rief dich denn? [1:19]
15 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Nun lass uns Frieden schliessen [1:53]
16 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Du denkst mit einem Fädchen [1:17]
17 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Wie lange schon [2:20]
18 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Nein, junger Herr [0:54]
19 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Mein Liebster ist so klein [1:33]
20 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Ihr jungen Leute [1:80]
21 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Wir haben beide [2:22]
22 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Mein Liebster singt [1:43]
23 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Man sagt mir [0:51]
24 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Ich esse nun mein Brot [1:48]
25 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Mein Liebster hat zu Tische [1:00]
26 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Ich liess mir sagen [1:40]
27 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Du sagst mir [1:13]
28 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Wohl kenn' ich Euren Stand [1:57]
29 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Wie soll ich fröhlich sein [1:38]
30 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Was soll der Zorn [1:52]
31 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Wenn du, mein Liebster [1:45]
32 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Gesegnet sei das Grün [1:33]
33 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) O wär' dein Haus durchsichtig [1:36]
34 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Schweig einmal still [1:08]
35 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Verschling' der Abgrund [1:18]
36 Italienisches Liederbuch (Heyse) Ich hab' in Penna [1:10]
37 4 Gedichte nach Heine, Shakespeare und Lord Byron Sonne der Schlummerlosen (Byron) [2:42]

 

 


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