Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
1. Der Fischerknabe, S292b/2 (1845)
2. Im Rhein, im schönen Strome, S272/2 (1840)
3. Die Loreley, S273/2 (1841)
4. Die Drei Zigeuner, S320 (1860)
5. Der König in Thule, S278/2 (1842)
6. Ihr Glocken von Marling, S328 (1874)
7. Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, S306 (1848)
8. Der du von dem Himmel bist, S279/1 (1842)
Three Patrarch Sonnets (1838/39):
9. Benedetto sia 'l giorno, S270a/2
10. Pace non trovo, S270a/1
11. I’ vidi in terra angelici costumi, S270a/3
12. Freudvoll und leidvoll, (version 1) S280/1, (1844)
13. Vergiftet sind meine Lieder S289 (1842)
14. Freudvoll und leidvoll, (version 2) S280/2 (1848)
15. Es rauschen die Winde, S294/2 (1845)
16. Die stille Wasserrose S321 (c. 1860)
17. Bist du! S277 (1843)
18. Es muss ein Wunderbares sein, S314 (1852)
19. O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst, S298/2 (1845)
Diana Damrau, soprano
Helmut Deutsch, piano
rec. 22nd-23rd, 26th-27th August 2011 at the August Everding Saal, Grünwald, Germany.
Full sung texts with English translations provided
VIRGIN CLASSICS 0709282 4 [76:37]
His Lieder with piano accompaniment should not be brushed aside as mere trivialities.” Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau talking about Liszt
After her successful release of Richard Strauss orchestral songs soprano Diana Damrau with pianist Helmut Deutsch now turn to Franz Liszt Lieder. On Virgin Classics the disc was released in late 2011 the year of the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth. With this programme Damrau was “keen to keep Lieder in sharp focus” and explains how she likes to include Liszt songs in her recital programmes. I couldn’t agree more with the Bavarian soprano when she explains that Lieder recitals are becoming rare. I can attend around forty recitals annually and in the last four years only three of them have been vocal recitals; evidence for me that Lieder is in danger of becoming a dying art. In Lieder programmes it is usually Schubert; Schumann; Richard Strauss; Mahler; Wolf and Brahms that is generally heard today with Liszt much less so. Yet Liszt’s Lieder was more than a mere sideline to his huge compositional output as he took the composition of his songs really seriously. Although not always making an immediately impact for those willing to concentrate Liszt’s songs offer their many rewards after repeated listening.
Through Liszt’s Lieder it is possible to chart the development of his compositional style from illustrative tone painting to a more economical form of expression for his love of literature. Mostly using German verse Liszt set some eighty Lieder which accounts for around ten-percent of his vast corpus of works. A check on the compositional dates reveals that the Liszt settings chosen by Damrau are predominantly from Liszt’s so called ‘Virtuoso Period’ (1839-47). Damrau’s selections are settings of Liszt’s favourite, mainly German poets namely Goethe; Heine and Schiller and other nationalities such as Lenau the German language Hungary/Austrian poet and the Italian Francesco Petrarca.
Diana Damrau and her pianist Helmut Deutsch are in remarkable form in this Liszt Lieder recital. The whole programme is entirely convincing with the soprano conveying a belief of every single word of the texts. Frequently the piano line in these settings is just as complex, intense and as interesting as the vocal part which is not surprising given Liszt renown as a virtuoso pianist and Helmut Deutsch proves himself a truly outstanding interpreter. I especially enjoyed Damrau’s dramatic and serious performance of the highly romantic song of unreciprocated love Pace non trovo (I find no peace). This is one of the early Three Patrarch Sonnets better known as a set of piano pieces from the suite Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage). The Goethe setting Es war ein König in Thule relating a king’s love for a treasured gold goblet displays Damrau capacity for strong tonal contrasts and generates considerable drama. If Liszt’s songs typically lack a degree of melodic memorability this is certainly not the case with the wonderful final song of the collection O lieb, so lang du lieben kannst (O love as long as you can). This song, a setting of verse from Ferdinand Freiligrath, expressing the intense pain of love is better known in its later adaptation into the celebrated piano piece the Liebesträume No.3 (Dreams of Love). The beautiful melody and deeply poignant mood suits Damrau’s cherishable smooth and creamy timbre so perfectly.
For those wanting to hear more Liszt Lieder I can confidently recommend a release by Ruth Ziesak (soprano) and Gerold Huber (piano) on Berlin Classics 0016282BC. Recorded in 2007 at Cologne I made the release my 2008 ‘Record of the Year’. Link to review:
Damrau and Deutsch are beautifully recorded in the splendid acoustic of the August Everding Saal, Grünwald; located just south of Munich. The booklet notes are interesting and informative and thankfully full texts and English translations are included. This release of Liszt Lieder from Diana Damrau on Virgin Classics should not be missed. I hope that a recording of some Mahler Lieder is not far way.
Michael Cookson