Volkslieder Volume 1
A collection of German folk songs, performed by various artists
CD is part of the “Liederproject” (Songs Project), a charity initiative of Carus Verlag (Carus Publishers) and SWR2 (South West Broadcasting Station)
rec. SWR2, Stuttgart, Germany, 2010
Full illustrated booklet with notes, song texts and biographies of participating artists in German and English
Full listing of songs and performers at end of review
CARUS 83.003 [74.23]

Volkslieder, or folksongs, from Germany, is not just a commendable charity initiative; it is also a rather interesting, unusual concept, combining an appealing, attractive and colourful book with some excellent singing and musical skill.

The initiative is called Das Lieder Projekt and it is a charitable project to promote and further singing with children. For each CD sold, a donation of €2 is made to Herzenssache e.V. This translates approximately as “a matter of the heart” and is an organisation that works with disadvantaged children. The project was initiated by German bass Cornelius Hauptmann in 2008 and its first output was a collection of Wiegenlieder (Lullabies), which is now being followed by this album of Folksongs. As stated in the informative booklet notes, the project will be continued with two further collections: One of children’s songs and the other of songs for Christmas. It promotes singing by allowing access of the music and recordings of the songs (free of charge) on the internet at http://www.liederprojekt.org/ and by working with amateur music societies and professional institutions. This is further aided by a wide variety of broadcasts via the ARD radio network as well as some online cooperation with well known German newspapers.

One of the main reasons for the success of the project is undoubtedly the fact that the recordings feature outstanding singers and accompanists - who all performed for free. These include Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Olaf Bär and Daniel Barenboim. A lot of the credit is also due to the lovingly made illustrations by young artist Christoph Mett. If you understand German, I would recommend watching and listening to his interview on the website mentioned above. He truly captures the essence of each song in naive drawings, almost child-like, beautifully colourful and effectively capturing the charm of postcards from a bygone era. Mett’s paintings were originally created in a large format for the song book. This was published by Carus Verlag and complements the recordings. Intelligently, some of his illustrations are reproduced in the CD booklet, alongside the texts of the songs. This transforms the CD booklet into one of the most attractive I have ever seen. The texts are in the original German, and although the English translations are excellent, this is a sequence where a good knowledge of German will be of great advantage for the enjoyment of the songs. The melodies are very attractive, with many unforgettable tunes that help one understand why Lieder have been so popular in Germany, throughout the centuries; eventually, extending to other countries and becoming a genre in itself. The CD offers folksongs from the 15th to the 20th centuries, some set to music more elaborately by composers such as Mozart: Sehnsuch nach dem Frühling (Komm, lieber Mai – tr. 17) but also some true art-songs like Schubert’s Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust, from Die schöne Müllerin. However, it is the combination and perfect blend of music and lyrics that make this recording so delightful. The texts often relate stories, which were once sung to “catchy” tunes in village festivities celebrating the seasons or the harvests and which were passed from generation to generation via the oral tradition. The text is therefore as important as the melody and both are essential to understand the “simple folks” that sang these songs, their stories, their beliefs and their superstitions. As such, each song really only comes into its own if one can understand the words in connection with the music.

Having lived in Germany for ten years and worked as a teacher in a variety of schools, I had a lot of contact with these traditional songs and I am familiar with many present on this CD. They are often sung during school celebrations or as part of the musical curriculum. This recording had special meaning for me and brought back many happy memories. That said, the important thing is that one does not need to have lived in Germany or be familiar with its culture to delight in this CD. There is much to enjoy. The melodies are charming. There are songs from the greats, like Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn or Mozart, and the musicians and singers are all outstanding. Then, there is the CD booklet, which is a treat in itself, with Mett’s beautiful illustrations, alongside interesting, informative notes, artists’ biographies and all the texts to the recorded songs.

The result of all these collaborations is a work of pure beauty and joy. Its artistic merits are clear; however, if you do not like German or do not appreciate the music, then there is always another rather important reason to buy it: You will be contributing to the work of an organisation that gives help to children in need.

Margarida Mota-Bull
(Margarida writes more than just reviews, check it online at http://www.flowingprose.com/)

The result of all these collaborations is a work of pure beauty and joy.

Full list of songs and performers
Wenn alle Brünnlein fließen Franz-Josef Selig, Gerold Huber
Horch, was kommt von draußen rein Dorothee Mields, Ludger Rémy
Da unten im Tale (Christoph Prégardien, Juliane Ruf)
Nun will der Lenz und grüßen (instrumental) Christine Busch, Juliane Ruf
Muss i denn zum Städele hinaus Michael Volle, Ann-Sophie Volle
Grüß Gott, du schöner Maien Lydia Teuscher, Juliane Ruf
Wach auf, meines Herzens Schöne SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart
Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust Hans Jörg Mammel, Michael Freimuth
Leise zieht durch mein Gemüt Stella Doufexis, Camillo Radicke
Ein Jäger aus Kurpfalz Dietrich Henschel
Im schönsten Wiesengrunde Peter Schreier, Konrad Ragossnig
Im Frühtau zu Berge (instrumental) Libor Šíma, Anne-Marie Hölscher
Kein schöner Land Christian, Paulina Elsner and Leonhard Elsner
Es klappert die Mühle Michael Nagy, Juliane Ruf
Ich fahr dahin Ruth Sandhoff, Les Escapades
In einem kühlen Grunde Marcus Ullmann, Klaus Melber
Komm, lieber Mai Sibylla Rubens, Elisabeth Föll
Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär Klaus Mertens, Juliane Ruf
O, du lieber Augustin (instrumental) Libor Šíma, Anne-Marie Hölscher Feinsliebchen Juliane Banse, Olaf Bär, Helmut Deutsch
Das Wandern ist des Müllers Lust / Schubert, Julian Prégardien, Götz Payer
Ward ein Blümchen mir geschenket Ruth Ziesak, Juliane Ruf
Am Brunnen vor dem Tore Calmus Ensemble Leipzig
Die Schwälble ziehet fort Christoph Sökler, Anne Le Bozec
Ade zur guten Nacht (instrumental) Christine Busch, Juliane Ruf
Papir ist doch waiß Helene Schneiderman, Götz Payer
Der Gang zum Liebchen Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Daniel Barenboim
Schwesterlein Ingeborg Danz, Michael Gees
Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen Franz Vitzthum, Les Escapades
Hab oft im Kreise der Lieben Cornelius Hauptmann, Sabine Schubert-Kessler
Winde wehn, Schiffe gehn (instrumental) Libor Šíma, Anne-Marie Hölscher
Bruder Jakob Die Kinder vom Kleispark (the children of Kleispark), Berlin
Kommt ein Vogel geflogen Dörthe Haring, Arne Zauber
Im Märzen der Bauer Johannes Grimm, David T. Schmidt
O Täler weit, o Höhen Kammerchor Stuttgart