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Peter Schreier singt Volkslieder
Peter Schreier (tenor)
Mitglieder des Gewandhausorchesters Leipzig, Rundfunkchor Leipzig, Mitglieder des Thomanerchores Leipzig / Horst Neumann
rec. Leipzig, 1975, ADD
BERLIN CLASSICS 0301291BC [42:43]

A compact disc with a playing time of less than three-quarters of an hour must have distinctive qualities to warrant its place in the market. Either that or its attractions will be magnetic only for the niche community: in this case Peter Schreier fans or German folksong adherents.

Schreier, one of the lieder tenors but also an orchestral conductor (review ~ review), was born in 1935 in Meißen in the one-time DDR. His voice has a springy, green and sappy colour. His intonation and communication of the words is direct and touchingly confident. These qualities he has long protected and cherished. Only a year before the present collection was set down in Leipzig, Schreier and Edith Mathis recorded all 65 of Brahms’ folksong arrangements for West Germany’s Deutsche Grammophon. Schreier was not averse to popular material; there is also a similarly-timed Christmas song collection again hailing from Leipzig.

No doubt folksong scholars might sniff, but there is a quiet moonlit beauty about this comely singing and about the songs themselves. The last track is Guten Abend, gut' Nacht - Brahms’ Lullaby - so the collection is rounded with a sleep. However, before that consummation, there is much to enjoy including Sah ein Knab' ein Röslein stehn (tr. 15) recalling a more famous setting, the superb trumpet stridency in Der Mond ist aufgegangen (tr.16), and the wafting woodwind zephyrs in Im schönsten Wiesengrunde (tr. 11). Only with the overpoweringly confident choir in Im Krug zum grünen Kranze (tr 10) is the atmosphere momentarily disrupted.

One can imagine students of the German language (in the UK, for now, a sadly diminishing tribe) benefiting enormously from adding this to their learning materials. Sad to say, neither the words nor translations are included in this CD’s package but Schreier is famed for his enunciation; in fact, there is no booklet at all. You do get a well-detailed track-list that gives title, composer and text author but that’s about it. From this list classical enthusiasts can pick out the composers/arrangers, some of whom include Fesca, Schubert, Gluck and Brahms, although most of the composers’ names were unknown to me.

Schreier also excelled in many lieder CDs, including the lieder of neglected DDR composer Ernst Hermann Meyer, but let’s not forget Schreier’s role on disc in Pfitzner’s Palestrina and in Franz Schmidt’s Das Buch mit Sieben Siegeln which he recorded for Orfeo with Lothar Zagrosek and which he performed in concert with Anton Heiller and Jacob Staempfli (early 1970s) and in 1981 with Gustav Kühn for Austrian Radio in Salzburg with Theo Adam.

The present collection first came out on LP in 1975 as Eterna 8 26 549. It seems that the master-tapes then sank into oblivion. This CD has been resurrected from vinyl and its cover reproduces exactly the original LP sleeve. No need to have doubts about the sound as it is very good and free from the usual vinyl fallibilities. This is not the first time that these 18 songs have appeared on CD. Almost twenty years ago they emerged on Corona Classics.

Rob Barnett

1 Kein Feuer, keine Kohle [2:01]
2 Wenn alle Brünnlein fließen [2:16]
3 Ein Jäger aus Kurpfalz [1:30]
4 An der Saale hellem Strande [1:58]
5 Bald gras' ich am Neckar [1:04]
6 Ach, wie ist's möglich dann [2:43]
7 Mit dem Pfeil, dem Bogen [1:56]
8 Am Brunnen vor dem Tore [3:19]
9 Mein Mädel hat einen Rosenmund [1:58]
10 Im Krug zum grünen Kranze [2:15]
11 Im schönsten Wiesengrunde [3:09]
12 In einem kühlen Grunde [2:51]
13 Ännchen von Tharau [2:42]
14 Kein' schöner Land [2:14]
15 Sah ein Knab' ein Röslein stehn [2:27]
16 Der Mond ist aufgegangen [3:25]
17 Weißt du, wieviel Sternlein stehen [2:40]
18 Guten Abend, gut' Nacht [1:58]

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