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Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Ständchen (1886) [2:43]
Die erwachte Rose (1880) [3:07]
Wiegenlied (1899) [4:30]
Befreit (1898) [5:16]
Gustav MAHLER (1886-1911)
Frühlingsmorgen (1880-1881) [2:05]
Ablősung im Sommer (1887-90) [1:54]
Scheiden und Meiden (1887-1890) [2:44]
Urlicht (1893) [4:57]
Othmar SCHOECK (1886-1957)
Wandsbecker Liederbuch (1936-1937) [35:48]
Britta Glaser (soprano)
Matthias Veit (piano)
rec. Klangscheune Nack, Germany, December 2016
TYXART TXA17089 [63:07]

The seventeen-song collection that comprises Othmar Schoeck’s Wandsbecker Liederbuch is the centrepiece of this recital—and what a revelation these songs are! The Swiss composer Schoeck studied with Max Reger in Leipzig in 1908 and lived in Zurich all his life. Song was his main musical expression. He composed over 400 lieder. He has been called the “last master of lieder” and “the last Romantic”. He was particularly inspired by the works of Hugo Wolf. He did not hesitate to change the order of the poems in a song cycle or to group them according to themes. He does it here, with the poems by 18th century poet Matthias Claudius. The songs are arranged in four distinct groups, each bearing the title of the first song: Die Liebe (Love), Die Natur (Natur), Der Mensch (Humanity) and Der Tod (Death). The first ten songs are warm and life-affirming. Shadows gather only for the remainder. [It is a compliment to the producers of the album that the Strauss and Mahler songs at the beginning of the album, before Wandsbecker, are equally open-hearted and beguiling, while their three songs placed after the Wandsbecker concluding sadness offer compassion and consolation.]

The Wandsbecker lieder open with a brief but blissful tribute to love. The singer extols: “Love holds nothing back”. Britta Glaser eagerly captures its unrestrained rapture. She moves on to a witty character study of Phidile, a young innocent (?) girl bemused and captivated by a handsome swain who alas appears to be too shy and runs off when she encourages him: “I cast my eyes down toward my bosom”. Matthias Veit’s witty accompaniment is droll and suggestive. Space does not permit comment on all the songs but I would single out a few that impressed me. Britta Glaser colours her voice imaginatively and sensitively to the texts. It is interesting that she started her career as a mezzo-soprano and is now interested in the lyric soprano repertoire. The Lullaby, to be sung by moonlight is gentle and bewitching; Glaser, a tender mother, extols the beauty of the moon, recalling how it shone down on her when she was a baby and then on her wedding night. The piano accompaniment serenely sparkles. The Stargazing Girl beguiles too. It is romantic and sentimental yet it also carries a message: “…my heart says within me: There’s something better in this world than all its pain and joy!”.

Winter’s chill is expressed in crystalline wit and merriment in the staccato notes of Song, to be sung at the back of the stove, and there is prayer-like supplication in the lovely Evening Song. Moving on to the shadowy songs, I would mention War; defiant, disturbing and increasingly vehement, sometimes ghostly—as per the line “what price…glory”—indeed. As an antidote, the short song On the Empress’s Death calms and soothes, for “She was a peacemaker…her people’s joy”.

The surrounding material, songs by Richard Strauss and Mahler, is much more familiar. There is a meltingly beautiful rendering of Strauss’s Wiegenlied (Cradle Song) here. One of his most popular songs, Ständchen (Serenade) opens the album, an enchanting invitation to love. Its original key of F sharp minor was later used for the musical symbol of the rose in Rosenkavalier. The Mahler songs are familiar from quotations in his other works. For instance, Ablősung im Sommer is the core of the third movement of the Third Symphony, as Urlicht is associated with the Second Symphony. Both songs’ texts appear in Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

Ian Lace

Previous review: Göran Forsling
Othmar Schoeck’s Wandsbecker Liederbuch consists of seventeen songs and four piano interludes. The songs:
No. 1 Die Liebe (Love) [1:07]
No. 2 Phidile [3:03]
No. 3 Ein Wiegenlied, bei Mondschein zu singen (Lullaby, to be sung by moonlight) [4:45]
No. 4 Als er sein Weib und’s Kind schlafend fand (When he saw his wife and child sleeping) [0:46]
No .5 Die Natur (Nature) [0:47]
No. 6 Der Frühling (Spring) [1:06]
No. 7 Die Sternseherin (The Stargazing Girl) [2:54]
No. 8 Kuckuck (Cuckoo) [0:28]
No. 9 Ein Lied, hinterm Ofen zu singen (Song to be sung at the back of the stove) [2:18]
No. 10 Abenlied (Evening Song) [5:28]
No. 11 Der Mensch (Man) [2:10]
No. 12 Die Rőmer (The Romans) [2:20]
No. 13 Der Schwarze in der Zuckerplantage (The Negro on the Sugar Plantation) [1:06]
No. 14 Der Krieg (War) [2:31]
No. 15 Auf den Tod einer Kaiserin (On the Empress’s Death) [1:19]
No. 16 Der Tod (Death) [1:14]
No. 17 Spruch (A Saying) [1:20]



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