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CD: AmazonDE

Folk Songs
see end of review for listing
Andrea Stadel (soprano); Rita Klose (piano)
rec. 7, 8, 10 January 2008, Tonstudio Teije van Geest, Heidelberg/Sandhausen, Clara-Wieck-Auditorium Sandhausen
ANTES BM-CD 31.9248 [59:49]
Experience Classicsonline

‘Folk Songs’ is an extensive concept. In art music it invariably means that the original has been added to, elaborated and changed by the composer to put his personal stamp on the end product.

This programme shows very different approaches. Brahms meticulously tried to find the right notes that preserved the melodies as closely as possible to the tradition and composed accompaniments that are personal but adjusted to the contents of the songs and though artfully written are rather discreet. Britten harmonises his accompaniments according to his own sound-world, sometimes in threateningly dark colours (The last rose of summer), sometimes in jarring dissonances (Oliver Cromwell). He also writes accompaniments that are independent of the song-line, contrapuntal or even ‘disturbing’. Wolf-Ferrari employs old Italian folk poems but composes his melodies using phrases from old songs so that the end product is largely his own.

Irrespective of method all these songs are highly attractive in their own right and as a programme it is cleverly contrasted but united through relative closeness in time. Apart from Britten’s songs the rest span a mere fourteen years, from Mahler (1892) to Ravel (1906).

The two young German artists are a sympathetic couple with good rapport and they have clearly considered their interpretations carefully. They are flexible in their approach and are liberal with rubato. Sometimes they verge on the self-indulgent. They linger a little too much in a couple of the Mahler songs and Rheinlegendchen comes dangerously close to a stand-still. But this is pretty much an exception and tastes differ.

Andrea Stadel has a light, flexible voice. She is a soprano though the booklet only says ‘Gesang’ (vocals). There is a fast flicker in the voice that is rather attractive. I hope though that she will not let it develop into a wobble. Her phrasing is musical and unaffected and she can sing beautifully softly and inwardly as for instance in Brahms’s In stiller Nacht. Occasionally I get a feeling that the voice hasn’t settled throughout the register. Some high notes stick out, not wholly integrated, and in a few places she is a little unsteady. Interpretatively there is often a sameness about her expression - a field where experience will give deeper insights.

But so much else is highly promising. The Brahms songs are fresh and natural, Da unten im Tale simple and innocent, just as she looks on the cover. Es war ein Markgraf, one of the lesser known Brahms songs, requires a heftier voice and that also goes for the Britten songs. In the Ravel cycle she is best in the last two songs but the Mahler group - apart from my question-mark concerning the rubatos - is a pleasure from beginning to end. No one has ever surpassed Elisabeth Schumann in Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht but Andrea Stadel is very good there; even better though are the first three in that group.

The real highlights are however the Wolf-Ferrari and Zemlinsky songs. Wolf-Ferrari is known for a number of operas that are occasionally performed even today but here he charms in a way the operas rarely do. The four Rispetti Op. 11 are melodious little gems that require to be heard. There are another four forming his Op. 12, so if Antes are contemplating a sequel to this disc they should be high on the priority list.

Zemlinsky’s only standard work is the Lyric Symphony for soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra. It has been recorded a number of times. It was composed in 1923 whereas his charming Walzergesänge were written in 1898. They are beguiling miniatures, lovely melodies from bygone days but with accompaniments that brim over with chromatics. These songs balance on the threshold of the turn-of-the-last-century with the door half open, letting us anticipate a musical revolution to come. They were recorded some twenty years ago by Barbara Bonney and Anne Sofie von Otter on a double CD with Zemlinsky songs (Deutsche Grammophon). It seems that this is still available as download. However, Andrea Stadel sings both groups with obvious relish and the songs, as I said, are wholly delightful. Unfortunately Antes don’t provide texts and translations, which is always a drawback but especially with songs that are not standard fare.

The recording cannot be faulted and Rita Klose plays excellently. In Ravel’s Tout gai! the piano swings excitingly and she finds many fine nuances in the Mahler songs.

I am sure Andrea Stadel will mature and refine her interpretations further in years to come. I will look forward to hearing her again. She is certainly promising.

Göran Forsling

Track listing
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 - 1897)
aus den 49 Deutschen Volksliedern WoO33
1. Es wohnet ein Fiedler [1:39]
2. Da unten im Tale [2:00]
3. Es war ein Markgraf überm Rhein [3:08]
4. Die Sonne scheint nicht mehr [1:19]
5. Dort in den Weiden steht ein Haus [1:11]
6. In stiller Nacht [3:31]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976)
Folk Song Arrangements
7. Come you not from Newcastle [1:27]
8. Sweet Polly Oliver [1:56]
9. The last rose of summer [3:45]
10. O can ye sew cushions? [2:11]
11. Oliver Cromwell [0:54]
Maurice RAVEL (1875 - 1937)
Cinq mélodies populaires grècques
12. Le réveil de la mariée [1:37]
13. Là-bas, vers l’église [1:32]
14. Quel galant m’est comparable? [0:57]
15. Chanson des cueilleuses de lentisques [2:39]
16. Tout gai! [0:58]
Gustav MAHLER (1860 - 1911)
aus ‘Des Knaben Wunderhorn’
17. Hans und Grete [2:18]
18. Ablösung im Sommer [1:55]
19. Wer hat dies Liedlein erdacht? [2:08]
20. Starke Einbildungskraft [1:10]
21. Rheinlegendchen [3:15]
22. Verlorene Müh’ [3:04]
Ermanno WOLF-FERRARI (1878 - 1948)
Rispetti Op. 11 (1902) nach Volksliedern aus der Toscana
23. Un verde praticello senxa piante [2:20]
24. Io del saluti ve ne mando mille [1:18]
25. E tanto, c’è pericol ch’io ti lasci [1:52]
26. O sic he non sapevo sospirare [0:59]
Alexander von ZEMLINSKY (1871 - 1942)
Walzergesänge Op. 6 nach toskanischen Liedern von F. Gregorovius
27. Liebe Schwalbe [1:45]
28. Klagen ist der Mond gekommen [1:39]
29. Fensterlein, nachts bist du zu [1:02]
30. Ich geh’ des Nachts [0:59]
31. Blaues Sternlein [1:54]
32. Briefchen schrieb ich [1:03]


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