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Voyage Through Europe - 32 Songs
Lorelei, op. 7,4 [02:57]
hinaus gezogen, op. 15,6 [01:29]
Müllerinn Nachbar, op. 10,6 [01:36]
op. 7,3 [02:06]
Wandern, op. 18,6 [02:22]
Spanische Zitherknabe, op. 8,1 [03:19]
Augen, op. 17,2 [01:32]
Mandoline, op. 19,1 [01:36]
op. 7,1 [01:54]
Zigeuner, op. 7,6 [02:30]
Nacht, op. 15,1 [03:53]
op. 8,3 [02:10]
nahst, op. 15,2 [02:44]
op. 7,2 [02:36]
Augen, op. 17,1 [03:48]
von Italien, op. 16,3 [02:29]
Oh, open The Door,
Lord Gregory [01:16]
Auld Rob Morris
[France, at the Theatre:
Lied, op. 21,4 [03:09]
op. 19,4 [01:59]
nach der Schlacht, op. 21,5 [03:22]
Auf, wohl auf ihr
Candidaten, op. 18,3 [01:31]
von der Eisenbahn [00:29]
von der Hummel [00:53]
op. 10,4 [04:13]
op. 8,4 [05:40]
und Fluth, op. 19,6 [03:27]
Geister haben's vernommen, op. 6,3 [02:48]
op. 8,2 [03:05]
den Mond, op. 7,5 [02:41]
(soprano), Thomas Palm (fortepiano [Érard, c.1839])
rec. December 2004,
Immanuelskirche, Wuppertal, Germany. DDD
CPO 777 140-2 [78:38]
songs are characterized by lyrical melodies, rich harmonies,
the prominence of the piano, expressive piano introductions
and independent vocal lines. Her compositions and other works
are deserving of wider acclaim." These are the last lines
of the article on Johanna Kinkel, written by Ann Willison Lemke
in New Grove. It has taken quite some time before that wish
has come true with the present disc. In the booklet Ingrid Schmithüsen
writes how the foundation for this production was laid in 1992,
when she took part in a project around this German composer,
organised by the same Ms Lemke. Together with Thomas Palm she
performed some of her songs and duets and they immediately recognised
their quality. Since then more music by Kinkel has been rediscovered,
in particular by Monica Klaus, librarian of Bonn University.
It is this city where Johanna Kinkel spent a considerable part
of her life. That life was very adventurous, and characterised
by social prejudice, political upheavals and personal tragedy.
the booklet Monica Klaus has written an extensive and very informative
essay about the life and works. In order to put the music into
perspective a synopsis of this essay is necessary.
Mockel was born in Bonn as the daughter of a teacher at the
Gymnasium, who also taught music and gave his daughter her first
music lessons. Franz Anton Ries, Beethoven's first music teacher
and Kapellmeister and Musikdirektor in Bonn, was so impressed
by her talent that he taught her for free. He soon left to her
the direction of the 'Musikalisches Kränzchen', a circle of
his best students. For this circle she started to compose her
first works to general acclaim. But when she expressed the wish
to become a professional musician, her family was shocked. She
was forced to marry, which resulted in misery and a split after
just six months. She found comfort in music, and her family
realised the errors of their ways and gave in. She came into
contact with Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who recognised her
talent and recommended for her a musical education in Berlin.
Here she entered the cultural high society and took part in
the 'Morgenkonzerte' of Felix's sister Fanny.
having learnt counterpoint and fugue she started again to compose.
Most of her songs date from the Berlin period, and enjoyed a
very positive reception, for example from the music critic Ludwig
Rellstab. In the 'Neue Zeitschrift für Musik' Robert Schumann
also praised her compositions, but he emphasized the extraordinary
character of her compositions considering the fact that she
was a woman, which made Johanna Kinkel very angry.
1839 her husband agreed to divorce, and she went back to Bonn
to settle the formalities. The whole procedure took rather longer
than expected, and in that time she met Gottfried Kinkel, a
protestant theologian. In 1843 they married and this marriage
not only brought Johanna personal happiness, but also social
tragedy. Kinkel became involved with the democratic movement,
and in particular its more radical wing. It led to social isolation,
and as Kinkel took part in the Palatine-Baden rebellion in 1848-49
he was arrested and imprisoned. In order to keep herself and
her four children alive Johanna started to give music lessons
again, which she didn't enjoy very much. She planned the liberation
of her husband from prison, which succeeded, and the couple
fled to England. Here Gottfried found a job which allowed Johanna
to follow her own interests.
London she started to study the history of music and got acquainted
with Scottish and Irish folk songs and wrote treatises on Mozart,
Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Chopin. The latter was still largely
unknown in England, and she performed his compositions in public
to great acclaim. At the same time her health deteriorated,
and the suspicions of her husband's infidelity didn't make things
any better. In 1858 Johanna died under somewhat mysterious circumstances,
feeding the rumour that she had committed suicide. A friend
described her thus: "A shining example that a woman too
can be an intrepid fighter for truth and justice and tirelessly
active in the highest areas of intellectual creativity while
at the same time not only fulfilling every duty in the domestic
life of a wife and mother in the noblest fashion but also contributing
to the material support of her family."
view that Johanna Kinkel's songs deserve wider attention than
they have been given so far is well supported by this disc,
presenting a good and representative choice from her catalogue.
The character and quality of this kind of song very much depends
on the texts, and it has to be said that Kinkel had a good sense
of quality. The disc opens with a song on a poem by Heinrich
Heine, Die Lorelei, which begins with the line "Ich weiß
nicht, was soll es bedeuten" and set by several composers
before. It directly makes clear that Kinkel does not imitate,
but finds her own way to express the words. All songs show that
she was a highly skilled pianist, as the piano parts are well-developed
and very effectively illustrate the text. A good example is
the humorous song 'Der Müllerinn Nachbar' where the piano part
illustrates the first two lines, saying: "The mill, it
turns its vanes, the wind, it blows in them". The sharp
descending figure at the last line of every second stanza of
'Vorüberfahrt' strongly expresses the words "brought forth
… my torment", "snatches me horribly away" and
"though my heart may break".
also manages to find a specific sound palette in the 'Spanish'
and 'French' songs. They have all-German texts, but the subjects
can be related to Spain and France respectively. Especially
in the 'Spanish' songs she makes use of characteristic rhythms.
Interesting is 'Schwarze Augen' which contains some echoes of
Schubert. No less than four of the songs related to 'Italy'
are written on poems by Gottfried Kinkel. When she met her future
husband he just had returned from a long stay in Italy. He was
also the author of the two 'revolutionary songs' – and they
illustrate how the quality of the text influences the quality
of the music. The poems are pretty dreadful, and the music –
with clear military features – is not of the same quality as
the other songs. They remind me of the music written in revolutionary
France at the end of the 18th century – historically interesting,
but musically worthless. It is nevertheless absolutely right
to include these two songs in the programme, as they reflect
a crucial phase in Kinkel's life.
the aftermath of the failed revolution of 1848-49 she and her
husband went to England, where Johanna became acquainted with
Irish and Scottish folksongs, three of which are included here.
On the basis of the information in the booklet I can’t tell
whether these songs are original melodies to which she wrote
a piano accompaniment or whether she also wrote the melodies.
I assume the former is the case, and it has to be said that
she wrote very appropriate accompaniments, which reflect the
spirit of these songs very well.
Kinkel also set her own poems to music. All three songs in the
segment 'children's world' are to her own texts. The first two
are quite humorous, in text, vocal line and piano accompaniment
– the first the 'Song of the Railroad', with imitations of the
noise of a train, and then the 'Song of the Bumble Bee', again
with imitations, this time of the noises this insect produces.
The last of the three is not a children's song, but a lullaby,
in which a mother expresses her love for her child. It is easily
to assume this came from her own heart, as by all accounts she
was a very devoted mother to her four children.
have greatly enjoyed this recording. The music is of excellent
quality and fully deserves to be taken seriously and appear
on the programmes with German romantic songs. Ingrid Schmithüsen
sings these songs with great enthusiasm and sensitivity. The
humorous character of some songs comes off rather well, and
the realisation of the children's songs is brilliant. I needed
a while to get used to Ms Schmithüsen's voice, though, and her
diction is sometimes less than ideal. In the first song, for
instance, the 'w' often sounds like a 'v'. I would also have
liked her to sing some top notes a little more softly. But these
remarks take little away from my admiration for the way she
has carried through this project. Thomas Palm performs the piano
parts very well, but is not perhaps taking full advantage of
the historical piano he has at his disposal. In any event Kinkel
was given an Érard piano by her husband only in 1850 when they
were in London. Most of her songs were written before that and
were very likely performed on another piano, probably a German
type with Viennese action.
strongly recommend this disc to any music-lover with a special
interest in the romantic song repertoire. The music is well worth
exploring, and I hope more of Johanna Kinkel's compositions will
be performed and recorded. The booklet gives an excellent biography
and Ingrid Schmithüsen gives an account of how this project happened.
All the lyrics are printed with an English translation. Congratulations
to everyone involved in this important project.
Johan van Veen
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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