HANS PFITZNER. Lieder. Complete edition Volume 5.
(soprano), Donald Sulzen (piano); Iris Vermillion (mezzo), Axel Bauni (piano);
Robert Holl (bass), Rudolph Jansen (piano).
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.