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Ich blick’ in mein Herz und ich blick’ in die Welt
Songs to Texts by Emanuel Geibel
Ulf Bästlein (bass baritone)
Sascha El Mouissi (piano)
rec. 2017, Tonstudio Tonal, Austria
GRAMOLA 99136 [71:23]

Emmanuel Geibel must have been one of the most prolific German poets of the nineteenth century and was also a favourite with composers, contributing hugely, with his texts, to the boom in the German Lied towards the end of that century. But as is often the case with artists who are cherished in their own time, he fell into neglect soon after departing this world.

This CD offers a rare compilation of known and little-known settings for voice and piano by famous composers like Mendelssohn, as well as by unheard-of composers such as Martin Plüddemann. With more than 3,000 existing settings of Geibel’s texts it goes without saying that this CD can give us only a small glimpse into the vast output of compositions that he triggered. However, apart from making the listener more familiar with Geibel’s work, it is definitely a good means of raising awareness of unfamiliar composers. Its contents are as varied as can be, for only one setting per text is given rather than comparing different settings of one and the same text. All composers featured here were German and I doubt that either Geibel or most of the compositions on this CD is well known in the English-speaking world. The CD certainly fulfils the purpose of introducing him to a broader audience: it helps that the booklet gives English translations of all the lyrics. Though German myself I have to admit that I, too, was coming across some of the composers on this compilation for the first time.

This CD is part of a series released by Gramola; previous releases have featured the works of Friedrich Hebbel, Karl Gottfried von Leitner and Johann Heinrich Voß. It is an interesting approach to apply to a more neglected literary figure such as Geibel, but it seems to work just fine. Geibel wrote at a time when Germany still did not exist but was made up of many small counties and kingdoms, united only by a common language and shared values. Rising German nationalism in this age was mainly focussed on the aim of eventually reaching unification and creating one German state. From today’s post-war point of view this is doubtless something that can easily be misinterpreted. Contemporary poets, like Hoffmann von Fallersleben, who wrote the words used in the German national anthem of the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, and finally the Federal Republic (the latter using a different, less ambiguous stanza for obvious reasons), readily produced texts in favour of a united Germany. It is no surprise then, that well-known composers were choosing these texts and poems for their compositions as their popularity would have most certainly led to good sales and wide circulation of their music. Geibel was at the forefront of those catering for this sentiment. The CD encompasses three quarters of a century of Geibel settings, from the time his texts were first released up to the Great War, when interest in Geibel and his patriotic attitude was (understandably) rapidly declining.

There was, however, another side to Geibel. All his poems on this CD are united by their romantic transfiguration of nature, love and death – the chosen title of the CD fits perfectly: “I look into my heart and I look into the world”. This quotation is taken from Sehnsucht (Longing) set by Schumann, which can be found right at the heart, i.e. in the middle, of this compilation. Even without a profound interpretation of the text it is interesting to see what the respective settings and composers made of his words and how it was achieved.

Sascha El Mouissi’s piano accompaniment, which is very well executed, does not pretend to be more than what it is and thus lays the imperative on Bästlein’s warm bass baritone rendering Geibel’s words, which makes the impact even greater. The present CD is their fourth collaboration in this series and clearly shows that they are on good mutual terms and able to interact in a very favourable way. It will be interesting to see the outcome of their attempt to contribute to reviving the Kunst-Lied and also raising awareness of the often-neglected (composed) German Volks-Lied (e.g. WanderschaftDer Mai ist gekommen). For the time being suffice it to say that all this is will give much enjoyment to listeners.
Maximilian Burgdörfer

Felix Mendelssohn, Der Mond [1:39]
Robert Schumann, Der Knabe mit dem Wunderhorn [2:26]
Franz Lachner, Frühling [2:35]
Franz Lachner, Reue [4:21]
Franz Lachner, Die stille Wasserrose [2:40]
Adolf Jensen, Am Ufer des Flusses [3:28]
Adolf Jensen, Und schläfst du, mein Mädchen [1:28]
Schottisches Volkslied, Weit, weit aus ferner Zeit [0:59]
Alexander Fesca, O stille dies Verlangen [3:22]
Benedict Randhartinger, Das sterbende Kind [1:45]
Clara Schumann, Die stille Lotosblume [2:42]
Alfred Grünfeld, Traumesdämmerung [2:21]
Robert Schumann, Sehnsucht [2:20]
Robert Schumann, Zigeunerliedchen [1:38]
Robert Schumann, Der Hidalgo [2:55]
Hugo Wolf, Wer sein holdes Lieb verloren [2:53]
Hugo Wolf, Alle gingen, Herz, zur Ruh [2:02]
Felix Mendelssohn, Wenn sich zwei Herzen scheiden [2:15]
Edvard Grieg, Dereinst, Gedanke mein [3:06]
Johannes Brahms, Mein Herz ist schwer [2:05]
Johannes Brahms, Frühlingslied [1:22]
Gottfried Hermann, In den mondverklärten Lüften [3:18]
Anton Bruckner, Im April [4:10]
Ignaz Brüll, Ländliches Frühlingslied [1:56]
Justus W. Lyra, Wanderschaft (Der Mai ist gekommen) [1:37]
Robert Franz, Vöglein, wohin so schnell [1:15]
Max Reger, Im April [2:01]
Martin Plüddemann, Volkers Nachtgesang [6:29]



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