This CD turned up as one of those waifs and strays
which tend to fall in between the more easily consumed classic programmes.
However, my eye was caught by the Lawo label, whose Beethoven wind octet
recording (see review
is still very much a firm favourite. Having decided to give it a chance
I was immediately caught by the Copland-like simplicity of the opening
song, Fraue, du süsse
. Berg’s songs inhabit that humid
late-romantic turn-of-the-century world, his youthful intensity of feeling
making settings of the sort found here an ideal vehicle for all kinds
of outpourings, though a sense of ‘classical’ restraint
is also a remarkable feature of many of these songs.
Schoenberg’s songs are also a product of his younger years, and
other than Erwartung
have little of the chromatic saturation
which would lead up to those well-known 12-tone technical changes. Webern’s
Acht frühe Lieder
were a product of the tradition of Schumann
and Wolf, and were written at the time of his early encounter with Schoenberg.
There is some of the sparseness of texture in a few of these songs which
makes them stand apart from those of Berg, but you will find none of
the serialism of his mature output. There is much harmonic exploration,
with fascinating twists in songs such as Bild der Liebe
Strauss moments in songs like the sublime Sommerabend
Nils Anders Mortensen plays all of these with the utmost sensitivity.
All of these songs are fascinating, but it is the performances which
make this an outstanding disc. Marianne Beate Kielland has a beautiful
mezzo voice, deep and expressive, but with a soprano lightness which
is utterly responsive to the extremes of mood and linguistic expression.
Her articulation is superb, and with the texts all given in the booklet
it is easy to follow each song though the layout with English translations
underneath rather than alongside the German originals is not ideal.
There are alternatives for this repertoire on record, but few if any
which bring the Früh
or should that be Frühe
songs of these composers together in one place in quite this way. Don’t
be put off by the relatively short playing time. If you like late-Romantic
vocal music but have missed or avoided these names for whatever reason,
this disc is a gem full of discovery.
Alban BERG (1885-1935)
Fraue, Du Süsse [2:27]
Über Den Bergen [1:11]
Tiefe Sehnsucht [1:22]
Er Klagt, Daß der frühling so kortz blüht [0:56]
Am Strande [1:27]
Erster verlust [1:36]
Arnold SCHÖNBERG (1874-1951)
Jesus Bettelt / schenk mir deinen goldenen kamm [4:03]
Anton WEBERN (1883-1945)
Tief von fern [1:32]
Bild der liebe [1:46]
Der tod [1:26]
Heimgang in der frühe [4:32]