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Mädchenherzen (A Maiden's Heart)
Richard STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
Hat gesagt, bleibt’s nicht dabei op. 36 No. 3 (from Des Knaben Wunderhorn) [2:00]
Du meines Herzens Krönelein op. 21 No. 2 (Felix Dahn) [2:05]
Weisser Jasmin op. 31 No. 3 (Carl Busse) [2:08]
Leise Lieder op. 41 No. 5 (Christian Morgenstern) [2:20]
Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden op. 68 No. 5 (Clemens von Brentano) [2:56]
Schlechtes Wetter op. 69 No. 5 (Heinrich Heine) [2:11]
Für Fünfzehn Pfennige op. 36 No. 2 (from Des Knaben Wunderhorn) [2:25]
Ludwig THUILLE (1861 – 1907)
Lied der jungen Hexe op. 15 No. 3 (Otto Julius Bierbaum) [1:58]
5 Lieder op. 19: Die Kleine (Joseph von Eichendorff) [1:50]; Sommermittag (Theodor Storm) [2:26]; Des Narren Regenlied (Otto Julius Bierbaum) [2:51]; Frau Nachtigall (from Des Knaben Wunderhorn) [1:40]; Spinnerlied (from Des Knaben Wunderhorn) [1:15]
In meiner Träume Heimat op. 27 No. 2 (Carl Hauptmann) [2:29]
Waldeinsamkeit op. 12 No. 1 (Heinrich Leuthold) [5:29]
Hugo WOLF (1860 – 1903)
Nachtzauber (Joseph von Eichendorff) [3:56]
Geh, Geliebter, geh jetzt! (anon. Translation Emanuel Geibel from Spanisches Liederbuch) [3:55]
Im Frühling (Eduard Mörike) [4:23]
Die Tochter der Heide (Eduard Mörike) [2:41]
Die Kleine (Joseph von Eichendorff) [1:32]
Die Spröde (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe) [1:50]
Singt mein Schatz wie ein Fink (Gottfried Keller) [1:07]
Waldmädchen (Joseph von Eichendorff) [2:22]
Mirella Hagen (soprano)
Kerstin Mörk (piano)
rec. Historischer Gemeindesaal, Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Germany, 1–3 May 2014
Sung texts enclosed
GENUIN GEN16415 [58:02]

Three very closely contemporaneous composers of German songs are presented here on this recording debut disc. Two of them are giants in the genre, Richard Strauss and Hugo Wolf, the third is hardly known at all: Ludwig Thuille. So who was he?

Ludwig Thuille is one of those composers who was fairly highly regarded during his lifetime but then fell into oblivion. His opera Lobetanz, premiered in 1898, was a success, although a short-lived one and the only work that still has some kind of foothold in the standard repertoire is a sextet for piano and strings. When he was sixteen he met the three year younger Richard Strauss and they became friends for life. He died of a heart failure aged 45. Insofar as he is known at all today it is possibly in his capacity as teacher. Among his students we can count Hermann Abendroth, Ernest Bloch and Walter Braunfels. It is good that his songs are being unearthed (he wrote 78 in all) – they are well worth a listen.

Let us start from the beginning. Mirella Hagen and Kerstin Mörk began planning for this CD by writing down individually their favourite songs. When they examined their choices they soon found that Mädchenherzen (A Maiden’s Heart) would be a suitable header for the collection. Hugo Wolf had for several years been a favourite song-writer and Ludwig Thuille’s songs had been part of the obligatory repertoire when they took part in the International Art Song Competition in Stuttgart in 2012. From him ‘it was only a small step to Strauss’. They had read the correspondence between the two and found that they were, if not twin-souls, in any case very close in choice of poetry.

Mirella Hagen has an attractive soprano voice, bright, light and Zerbinetta-like in her flexibility and easy high notes. A look at her operatic roles so far tells us, not surprisingly, that she is cut out for Blumenmädchen I in Parsifal, Ännchen in Der Freischütz, Valencienne in Die lustige Witwe, Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel and Papagena in Die Zauberflöte. The last three seasons she has been singing Waldvogel in Siegfried at Bayreuth. The Strauss songs are well within her reach. Du meines Herzens Krönelein is inwardly sung with great warmth. In the lower part of her range, as in Weisser Jasmin, the tone tends to spread a little, but only marginally. Leise Lieder is beautifully done and she relishes Ich wollt ein Sträusslein binden – the Brentano song written for Elisabeth Schumann. One can imagine her taking on Zerbinetta before long. Für fünfzehn Pfennige is expertly sung with fresh and crystal-clear tone.

When we change over to Ludwig Thuille we meet a composer who also knows how to get the most out of the soprano voice. Moreover he fits in with his companion composers stylistically — there is a fin-de-siecle atmosphere about his songs. He is closer to Strauss than to Wolf, although his is not as distinctive a personality as the other two, which possibly explains the neglect of his music after his demise. This is not to say that he is uninteresting, far from that, but the same can be said of many composers who have dropped out of the repertoire. Closer acquaintance with his songs may very well reveal more of a distinct voice and it is evident that they are highly professional creations. Spinnerlied (tr. 13) is especially attractive.

The greatest personality of the three is without doubt Wolf, who is so unpredictable. The songs chosen here are not the best-known, but whatever he wrote has the imprint of genius about it. Mirella Hagen may not be the detailed reader of the texts in the way Elisabeth Schwarzkopf was, but hers are anyway very attractive interpretations, sung with youthful freshness, and Kerstin Mörk’s accompaniments are excellent.

I left my listening chair in high spirits and a wish for more to come – why not more Thuille? There are seventy more songs to browse among. In the meantime this disc is worthy of exploration. For non-German speakers translations of the texts would have been a help to deeper understanding of the songs, but it is fully possible to assimilate the atmosphere at large through the involved singing.

Göran Forsling



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