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Hans SANDIG (1914-1989)
Besuch im Zoo - Eine heitere Tierliederfolge (lyrics by Richard Hambach) [33:57]
Morgernstern-Zyklus (lyrics by Christian Morgenstern) [13:38]
Tierisch musikalisch (zoo)
MDR Children’s Choir/Wieland Lemke (zoo), Ulrich Kaiser (Morgernstern)
rec. 2015, MDR-Würfel am Augustusplatz, Leipzig
Texts in German, no translation

Hans Sandig was a well-known German composer, arranger and choral conductor who became music director at the Mitteldeutschen Rundfunk (Central German Broadcasting) in 1948. He founded the Rundfunk-Kindercor Leipzig (now MDR Kinderchor, or MDR Children’s Choir) the same year, and directed the choir until his passing in 1989. Today the 70 + member children’s choir performs under the direction of Ulrich Kaiser, and can be frequently heard on radio, television, and in concert. This disc features the choir singing the delightful cantata Besuch im Zoo (A Visit to the Zoo), one of Sandig’s most-popular compositions, with lyrics by Richard Hambach. The choir is accompanied by Tierisch musikalisch, a 10-member ensemble whose namely roughly translates as “the musical animals”, a fitting moniker for this production. The group was conducted by singer Wieland Lemke, a well-known opera performer. The cantata features a series of short, lively musical numbers, each one based on an animal found at the zoo- the giraffe, the elephant, the penguin, the zebra, and more, with a very short dialogue between each musical number. The entire program is in German; however one doesn’t need to understand the language to enjoy the music and the presentation. The numbers are lively and entertaining, and a well-trained children’s choir is always a pleasure to experience.

This disc also features the world premiere recording of the Morgenstern cycle Winter Cantata for alto, bass, chorus and piano. The music was composed by Hans Sandig, and the text and lyrics were taken from writings by German poet and author Christian Morgenstern. The cantata was directed by Ulrich Kaiser and consist of seven short numbers, simple and elegant, sung in sweet harmony, with a fine accompaniment by pianist Christian Otto. Each number touches on an interesting aspect of winter; the scarecrow, the ice-skating duck, the three sparrows, and others whose translation is a mystery. Several of the numbers are slow and somber, particularly Schlaf, Kindlein (Sleep, children). Weiland Lemke performs a solo singing Die zwei Wurzeln with piano accompaniment. Though he is listed as a bass, his pleasant voice has a much wider range, more of a baritone’s. The cantata ends with the choir singing the hopeful Der Fruhling kommt bad, translated as “Spring Comes Soon”, a fitting end to a well-done performance.

Genuin is an independent recording studio based in Leipzig, Germany. A 28-page booklet is included, and written entirely in German. The sound quality is excellent.

Bruce McCollum



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