Interesting to review this disc so soon after Wolfgang Holzmair's
performance of Reimann's Nachtstück (on poems by
Eichendorff) at the Wigmore Hall (see concert review).
Interesting, also, to re-experience the Nachtstück
in the light of Holzmair's Philips recording (464 991-2). His
recording is more involving than at the Wigmore - where it was
actually the highlight of a disappointing evening. It is worth
noting that the present disc was touched on by PGW
some time ago.
The piece here entitled Mignon (after Goethe) carries
with it the description “compiled and transcribed for
soprano and string quartet”. Reimann's typically wide-ranging
imagination takes some of the lesser-known settings by Schubert
of this text along with the more familiar - and includes the
five-part male choir version D656 of 1819. The D310 vies with
fragments from another early rescension. The effect is far from
the patchwork that the foregoing description might imply. Juliane
Banse's faultless soprano delivers all the radiance this music
demands, and Reimann's transcription, and his play with his
inherited materials, is masterly. Banse's slurs, too, are astonishingly
clean, almost in the early music-inspired manner. The Cherubini
Quartet matches her radiance, thus doing this music full justice.
It is as if Reimann has set out to illuminate this music from
within and, as such, he almost transcends the limits implied
by the descriptor, “transcriber”.
The Brahms Ophelia-Lieder, lasting in total a mere four
minutes, are given subdued treatment. The openness of “Auf
morgen ist Sankt Valentins Tag” is a shot of light in
Reimann's hands; he subsequently highlights the darkness of
the ensuing “Sie treugen Ihn auf der Bahre bloss”,
whilst the fragile longing of the final “Und kommt er
nicht mehr zurück?” is expertly caught.
The Op. 107 songs are magnificent examples of late Schumann
- the first makes reference to Ophelia, thus linking to the
Brahms just heard. Here Reimann is more interventionist, especially
in the string effects of the second song, “Der Fensterscheibe”.
Interesting also to hear the high strings against Banse in “Der
Gärtner”, although “Im Wald” alone sounds
falsely tampered with and makes one wish for the voice/piano
The Mendelssohn takes the last line of the song “In dem
Mondschein um Walde” as its title. Reimann wrote six Intermezzi,
linking the songs which also act on his own reflections about
the songs themselves. The juxtaposition of styles is both startling
and rewarding. Mendelssohn and Reimann's Webern-influenced mode
of expression are poles apart in some ways. Reimann takes ten
songs, most of which are little known - the greatest exception
being “Auf Flügeln des Gesanges”, here with
an almost Schoenbergian use of strings. The care with which
Banse phrases throughout is remarkable, as is her ability to
attune to both the worlds of Mendelssohn and of Reimann.
The recording is full and forthright - perhaps a touch more
intimacy would have been appropriate. Yet this remains a vitally
important issue, and one which adds much to our appreciation
of the magnificent songs while in the process encouraging us
to re-examine them. The disc requires much input on the part
of the listener - a refreshing change in the current climate
of convenience food, Classic-FM samplers.