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Wilhelm KIENZL (1857-1941)
Lieder, vol. 1
see end of review for track listing
Christiane Libor (soprano)
Carsten Süss (tenor)
Jochen Kupfer (baritone)
Stacey Bartsch (piano)
rec. 16-17, 23-24 February 2008, Florentine Hall, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Graz, Austria
CHANDOS CHAN10666 [67:47]

Experience Classicsonline


A contemporary of Mahler and Strauss, Wilhelm Kienzl also composed Lieder, and his efforts reflect other directions for the genre in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Like Mahler and Strauss, Kienzl retained a tonal center in his music, with chromatic inflections that identify his efforts as responses to the idiom influenced by Richard Wagner. Likewise, the melodic structures can be, at times, angular, but never without references to a conventional line. As a result, the Lieder are certainly typical of a composer working in the Austro-German tradition, with a number of songs that are effective, if not memorable among over 200 pieces in this genre.
 
While Mahler composed settings from a limited number of sources, Kienzl resembles Strauss with regard to a wider and more eclectic taste for poetry. Even in this first disc of a comprehensive edition of recorded Lieder, the poets include the medieval figure Walther von der Vogelweide and later figures like Heinrich Heine, Lenau, and Goethe, along with nineteenth-century figures whose names are no longer familiar. In addition to German poets, Kienzl set translations of folk poetry, including some ascribed to Roumanian and Serbian traditions.
 
This first volume includes much of the early Lieder of Kienzl, and offers a sense of his efforts through the turn of the nineteenth century into the twentieth. Some of the settings reveal solid craftsmanship, as with “Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang” (here sung by Jochen Kupfer), while others are more adventurous, like “Die verschweigene Nachtigall” (here sung by Christiane Libor). The conventional texts, like the song Goethe placed in Auerbach’s cellar, receive individual treatment in Kienzl’s hands, which benefits here from the accompaniment of Stacey Bartsch. These are just three of the twenty-four songs included in the Chandos recording, and which serve as a fine introduction to Kienzl’s work.
 
While it may be that individual listeners will find specific settings attractive for different reasons, this CD benefits from the inclusion of three singers, Christiane Libor (soprano), Carsten Süss (tenor), and Jochen Kupfer (baritone), who share the repertoire so that the ranges and vocal timbres fit the songs well. Not only the songs lend themselves well to performances to individuals of one gender, the tone and tessitura is also a consideration that is addressed through the involvement of these three fine performers. At the same time, it is indeed useful to have a single pianist to convey a sense of continuity, and Stacey Bartsch contributes such an aesthetic throughout.
 
The presentation itself is admirable for its inclusion of a 70-page booklet, which offers an introductory essay in German, French, and English, along with the texts and translations of all the songs in the same languages. In addition to the photos of the performers, it is useful to have archival images of Kienzl at various times in his career. As serious as this volume is in making Kienzl’s music known to a broad audience, the image of the performances en ensemble superimposed with Kienzl’s bust speaks of a sense of humor that fits the tone of some of the songs. Modern audiences should be delighted by these engaging performances.
 
While studies of Lieder, like the classic one by Edward Kravitt, point to the extensive repertoire available in the nineteenth century, concerted efforts to explore the oeuvre of specific composers, like Kienzl, are rare. The result here is a contribution that expands the perception of Lieder at the time when Strauss and Mahler were composing music that was then new and has since become part of the established repertoire. The once popular composer Kienzl may now move from the list of composers whose efforts were once heard more often to someone whose music can benefit from revived interest as found here in this exemplary effort by Chandos.
 
James L. Zychowicz 

Track listing
1. Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang [3:30]
2. Lenz! [1:14]
3. Hochzeitzlied [1:04]
4. Die verscheigen Nachtigall [2:30]
5. Die blauen Husaren [1:14]
6. Wehmut [2:44]
7. Im Glücke [2:27]
8. Gesunden, Op. 18: no 8 [3:13]
9. Deingedenken, Op. 18: no 5 [3:30]
10. Traumesahnung [1:57]
11. Triftiger Grund [1:46]
12. Sehnsucht nach Vergessen [3:44]
13. Mephistopleles’ Lied in Auerbachs Keller [1:52]
14. Der Leiermann [2:31]
15. Röslein und Schmetterling [1:51]
16. Der Kuss [1:18]
17. Romanze [2:29]
18. Der Tambourinspieler [2:00]
19. Die Urgroßmutter [2:23]
20. Jung Werners Lied [2:52]
21. An die Nacht [5:12]
22. Augenblicke, Op. 55, no 2 [5:13]
23. Abendlied, Op. 55, no 6 [2:41]
24. Asphodelen [3:50]
25. Letzte Reise [3:59]


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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