> LOEWE Lieder [TB]: Classical CD Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Carl LOEWE (1796-1869)
Lieder: Der selt'ne Beter, Opus 141
Der alte Goethe, Opus 9 No. 2
Graf Eberstein, Opus 9 No. 5
Fridericus Rex, Opus 61 No. 1
Der gefangene Admiral, Opus 115
Grau vom Meere, Opus 103 No. 1
Die überfahrt, Opus 94 No. 1
Der Asra, Opus 113
Jordans Ufer, Opus 13 No. 4
Der Weichdorn, Opus 75 No. 2
Das Wunder auf der Flucht, Opus 75 No. 4
Ich bin dein guter Hirte (without Opus No.)
Das dunkle Auge (without Opus No.)
Mein Geist ist träb, Opus 5 No. 5
Die Sonne der Schaflosen, Opus 13 No. 6
Bauernregel, Opus 9 No. 3
Der Wirthin Töchterlein, Opus 1 No. 2

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Hartmut Höll (piano)
Rec 1987
Warner Apex 0927447672 [51.58]


Loewe is an important figure in the German song (lieder) repertory. Practically an exact contemporary of Schubert (he was born the previous year), we tend to think of him as a composer of the next generation, because he lived a normal life span, until 1869.

Loewe wrote in excess of 500 lieder, as well as all manner of instrumental and choral compositions, though it is for his solo vocal works that he is remembered. Loewe was inspired by many poetic sources, and it is possible to argue that he is at his best when he is most direct, laying emphasis on a direct and song-like melodic line. Therefore there is no reason to discount the value of the earlier songs, less subtle and complex though they may be. And with an artist of the calibre of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau at the helm, along with a seasoned accompanist in the form of Hartmut Höll, the music is well served.

The recording too shows the Teldec original to have been sensitive to the needs of a voice and piano recital, with plenty of detail captured without over-close placing of microphones. The Apex reissue serves the best interest of both composer and artists, if anything enhancing the qualities of the original issue. Full texts and translations are provided, for which all praise is due, though as always with this series the reader is frustrated by the shiny paper and the small print.

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau recorded these songs relatively late in his distinguished career. The issue is therefore whether his deep understanding of the lieder territory is undermined by failing vocal powers. While he is not in his best voice, he always chooses the right tempo and articulates it with feeling and conviction. Thus the tone is set by the first song in the recital, Der seltne Beter, which is thoroughly typical of Loewe's ballad settings. It is a tale of castles and battles, and has a really telling climax powerfully delivered.

However, there are more subtle songs in which careful attention to dynamic gradings can make all the difference. This is true for the accompanist as much as for the singer; and all praise to the splendidly alert Hartmut Höll, who knows and loves this music to perfection. The tale of Mary and the hawthorn bush, entitled Der Weichdorn, is beautifully performed.

While Fischer-Dieskau may have been in more commanding voice earlier in his career, these Loewe songs suit his voice and his vocal understanding to the full. At bargain price this gains a strong recommendation.

Terry Barfoot

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