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. Lieder. Complete edition Volume 5.
Julie Kauffman (soprano), Donald Sulzen (piano); Iris Vermillion (mezzo), Axel Bauni (piano); Robert Holl (bass), Rudolph Jansen (piano).
CPO 999 491 - 2 [DDD] [73' 57"].


I had forgotten how powerful and impressive Hans Pfitzner's songs are.

The Four Songs, Op 30 are quite superb. The piano part is both an important and integral part of each song, unlike some composer's songs. The drama of the first song gives way to the plight of the abandoned girl in the second. The third song is literally soul-searching and the mezzo, Iris Vermillion, stands down for Robert Holl to sing the final song in the set, The Working Man, and what a splendid piano part. They are songs of life and love. The CD booklet gives the German and English words.

The Four Songs Op 32 are all settings of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and evoke world weariness and the transience of life. Dark, but very impressive. Robert Holl has a splendid voice especially when it is cadaverous.

Julie Kauffman performs the Eight Songs of Gottfreid Keller Op 33 which songs concern introspection, innocence, love and death as in the final song How Coldly Shines the Moon. How well the composer paints innocence in music to such words as these:

My boy so young and tender
Why gaze at me so?
What have your blue eyes asked me?
What is it that fain you would know?

Later you can sense the early morning dew and the desolation of never knowing love. How excellent Julie Kauffman is in a mature childlike simplicity ... if that is not a paradox.

Love and kisses ne'er to know
To my grave unwooed to go.

The imitation of the nightingale in the fifth song is expertly captured and the sad plight of careless Rosy is full of irony and I enjoyed the controlled pomp of the lordly warrior.

But the revelation is Kauffman's wonderfully clear voice and her thrilling top notes are superb.

The Seven Liebeslieder Op 35 are very fine. For example, Iris Vermillion brings magnificent drama to the final song. This is not only an excellent performance but evidence of Pfitzner's brilliance as a composer. And I value the fact that his songs are not the superficial 'pretty little things' one associated with some other composers.

This same mezzo is in compelling voice in the Six Songs Op 40. The third song Sehnsucht, a text often put to music, is the most superior setting I have heard to date.

To be with you
I would bear need and danger
And leave friend and home
And the fullness of the earth.

Robert Holl completes the CD with the Three Sonnets Op 41. The final setting (Eichendorff's Old Age) was compelling.

Not everyone will enthuse about these songs and performances as I do but I hope they will heed the 'wake-up call' of Op 40 No 6.

A splendid CD for the discerning and mature music lover.


David Wright




David Wright



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