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Hans SOMMER (1837-1922)
Ballads and Romances
Sebastian Noack (baritone), Manuel Lange (piano)
rec. 2013, Jesus-Christus-Kirche, Berlin Dahlem
CAVI-MUSIC 8553389 [64:26]

Nearly four years ago the late-romantic German composer Hans Sommer came to modest prominence. He was introduced to the listening public through a little- trumpeted Tudor CD of sumptuous Straussian orchestral Lieder. Strauss it is who most often comes to mind in listening to these Lieder by a composer born in Braunschweig and who studied in Göttingen and Berlin..

Sebastian Noack has a lighter complexioned baritone - closer to tenor than bass. Even so, he captures the drama of an extended Lied such as the first of the Eichendorff four: Die Räuberbrüder. He is able to lighten the horizon for his take on the famously Schubert-set ballad Der König von Thule. More Goethe - this time in the form of his Der Fischer in which Manuel Lange skilfully evokes the watery backdrop and moves effortlessly between a darkness that portends disaster and warmer sunnier climes. We then move on to Sommer’s Dahn settings. The Sir Aethelbert I and II resound to the echoes of tuckets and fanfares. There's a touch or two of Stanford here. Odysseus is surprisingly warm and subdued and a song of this title appears in the Tudor collection. Das Lied vom Schill starts stern and chill but soon gains a ringing heroic tone. Noack artfully colours his tone for the sinister and malign Die Bernstein - Hexe. After such adventures the last song, Jung Anne is a romantic serenade which yet becomes laden with regret before Sommer and Noack return to a swashbuckling dénouement.

The words are not provided in the booklet. We do, however, get a useful essay to help find our footing. Noack and Lange recount the discovery of Sommer's songs while the eminently respected Reger scholar Jürgen Schaarwächter places the songs in context. Amongst other things he deals with Sommer's relationship with the poems of Felix Dahn (1834-1912). The booklet is in German and English.

This Hans Sommer (real name Friedrich August Zinck) obviously is not the same as the Hans Sommer who in 1932 conducted Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny) with Lotte Lenya and the Orchestra of the Kurfurstendamm Theater, Berlin and who recorded Bronislau Kaper’s Adoration with
the MGM Studio Orchestra.

What is a delightful co-production between AVI and Deutschlandfunk Kultur I criticise on only two grounds. There was space for more songs (important that we get to hear these with such a little-known composer) and the sung words and translations can be accessed via a webpage which when I tried to find it was reported as "cannot be found".

Rob Barnett

From: Ballads and Romances, Op. 8 (Joseph von Eichendorff (1788-1857))
1 Die Räuberbrüder [5:23]
2 Verloren [2:51]
3 Nachtwanderer [3:19]
4 Der Kühne [2:01]

5 Loreley, Op. 7 [3:58]

Zwei Balladen nach / Two Ballads by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
6 Der König von Thule [4:38]
7 Der Fischer [4:45]

From: Ballads and Romances, Op. 11 T: Felix Dahn (1834-1912)
8 Sir Aethelbert I & II [9:33]
9 Odysseus [2:33]
10 Das Lied vom Schill [3:33]
11 Die Bernstein-Hexe [2:56]

12 Jung Douglas und schön Rosabell, Op. 24 - Felix Dahn [10:26]
13 Die junge Königin, Op. 25 - Felix Dahn [4:01]
14 Jung Anne, Op. 18 No. 1 - Felix Dahn [4:05]

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