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Mein Hamburg
Daniel Behle (vocals)
Schnyder Trio: Andreas Janke (violin), Benjamin Nyffenegger (cello), Oliver Schnyder (piano))
Elbeblech (Thomas Meise (trumpet), Christof Skupin (trumpet), Michael Winter (horn), Martin Räpple (trombone), Stefan Kaundinya (tuba))
rec. DRS Radiostudio Zürich, 18 August 2015, 30 January–1 February 2016
Texts enclosed, English translations available online
BERLIN CLASSICS 0300826BC [66:19]

Lieder, oratorios, opera, operetta – Daniel Behle moves freely between genres and is equally successful in them all. To this list can also be added: composer. Since 1994 he has written a large number of mainly instrumental works, many for various wind combinations.

Here he makes his record debut in a lighter vein where he also steps forward as arranger and lyricist. Having grown up in Hamburg that city has a special place in his heart and the present disc is his homage to his former hometown – even though he now lives in Basel, Switzerland with his family.

The programme is a mix of, mostly, well-known melodies with his own lyrics and some compositions of his own. His choice of accompaniment – a traditional piano trio – is charming and effective. He has picked songs that suit his agreeable tenor voice, today a more brilliant and powerful instrument than when I heard him at the beginning of his career almost nine years ago.

After a short prelude he opens the proceedings with a classic song text by the legendary - in Germany - actor and director Ralph Arthur Roberts (1884–1940). Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins was originally written for a 1912 revue and has also featured in a couple of films. Behle’s singing is, as usual, nuanced with wonderful diminuendos and pianissimos and brilliance up high. His enunciation is exemplary. In Meine kleine Elbeschleuse he supplies his own lyrics to Dvorak’s well-known Humoresque — delicious stuff.

Ob blond, ob braun, ich liebe alle Frau’n was a song by Robert Stolz with lyrics by Ernst Marischka. Famously it was recorded by the Polish tenor Jan Kiepura in the 1930s. His singing doesn’t stand a chance against the superb vocalism of Daniel Behle. Schlickt an der Waterkant is Offenbach’s Au mont Ida from La belle Hélène and again Behle's singing is masterly with the second stanza taken pianissimo and a great top note. HAmBurG is an instrumental piece with a charming melody, while Klaus Störtebeker is Mes amis, écoutez l'histoire from Adolphe Adam’s Le postillon de Lonjumeau with that climactic high D. Nicolai Gedda’s recordings – he made several – has always been regarded as definitive but Behle actually challenges him here. This is really glorious singing.

His own Grüsse von der Mole in 3/4 time is nice and it is followed by the gondola song from Strauss’s Eine Nacht in Venedig with the original text - lovely singing indeed. Grog & Rum is again instrumental and Kennt ihr schon Hamburg is Agustín Lara’s well-known Granada - another hit. As melody for Der Walfischfänger Behle has chosen the aria Wandern, ach wandern from Adolf Neuendorff’s opera Der Rattenfänger von Hameln, composed in 1880. The music breathes Vienna more than Hamburg maybe but it is a lovely song. FC St. Pauli is an affectionate and spirited homage to Behle’s favourite football team in Hamburg, just as Ich bin stolz auf meinen Steinway is a devoted love-song to his grand piano – even though the trombone is his first instrument. His arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Honey Pie is great fun. Ein Tor zur weiten Welt is Behle’s version of Hans May’s Ein Lied ging um die Welt, the title song from the 1933 film, which featured the great little tenor Joseph Schmidt. Again the singing is glorious.

Jim Cowler, whose real name was Karl Gustav Herbert Noack, wrote around 750 'schlager' melodies during the 1920s and 1930s. Kleine Möwe, flieg nach Helgoland, from 1934 and with a text by Bruno Balz, is probably his best known song. It is a beautiful melody and Daniel Behle sings it so warmly and inwardly. The final number, Klabautermann Quintett, played by the excellent brass quintet Elbeblech, is both beautiful and funny. It is a piece I have returned to several times already.

The Schnyder Trio do a great job and Daniel Behle’s arrangements is a further asset. The sung texts are printed in the booklet and international listeners who are less than fluent in German can find English translations online.

All in all this is a wonderful disc that all admirers of Daniel Behle and of good singing on the whole should allow themselves to own.

Göran Forsling

Track listing
1. Anon Prelude [0.22]
2. Roberts Auf der Reeperbahn [3:50]
3. Dvorak Meine kleine Elbeschleuse [3:29]
4. Stolz Ob Blond ob Braun [2:49]
5. Offenbach Schlicht an der Waterkant [3:51]
6. Behle HAmBurG – Handel und Hafen Trio [2:59]
7. Adam Klaus Störtebeker [4:12]
8. Behle Grüsse von der Mole [4:49]
9. Strauss Komm in die Gondel [4:26]
10. Behle Grog & Rum – Schluckauf Trio [1:47]
11. Lara Kennt ihr schon Hamburg [4:34]
12. Neuendorff Der Walfischfänger [4:07]
13. Behle FC St. Pauli [3:51]
14. Behle Ich bin stolz auf meinen Steinway [4:57]
15. Lennon/McCartney Honey Pie [3:42]
16. May Ein Tor zur weiten Welt [3:31]
17. Cowler/Balz Kleine Möwe, flieg nach Helgoland [2:05]
18. Behle Klabautermann Quintett [7:04]



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