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Dimensionen Innenwelt (Dimension Inner World)
Marlis Petersen (soprano)
Stephan Matthias Lademann (piano)
Gregor Hübne (violin)
rec. 2019 Konzerthaus Blaibach, Germany
Full sung texts with English translations provided
Part 3 of Dimensions Trilogy
SOLO MUSICA SM316 [65:01]

Marlis Petersen’s latest release the album Innenwelt (Inner World) is the third and final volume of her Dimensionen (Dimensions) trilogy on the Solo Musica label. Petersen’s series is a vehicle for displaying her special talent for Lieder and mélodie the genre of art song she loves to perform in recital. The coronavirus pandemic will have put paid to Petersen’s plan to take Innenwelt on recital tour this summer to Germany and Spain.

Appearing at the world’s greatest opera houses in a variety of roles from Handel to Manfred Trojahn, Petersen is renowned for her eponymous role in Berg’s Lulu for ten productions over two decades, a role she retired from in 2015. In reviewing Petersen’s Innenwelt (Inner World), I am conscious of not having encountered the two earlier albums in her Dimensionen trilogy - Welt (World) from 2017 and Anderswelt (Other World) released 2018.

German born Petersen is a much sought-after singer and I was delighted to see her perform just eight months ago in Munich. There, I reported from the Bayerische Staatsoper’s new production of Salome conducted by Kirill Petrenko with stage direction by Krzysztof Warlikowski. In my review I stated, ‘Although not enamoured with Warlikowski’s staging of Salome, the performance of Marlis Petersen was cause for celebration.’ In what was remarkably her role debut as Salome, Petersen saved the day with a sensational performance that will remain long in the memory (review).

Petersen’s theme running through her Dimensionen trilogy concerns the listener finding the time to take a metaphorical journey of discovery and enjoy the experience of the world around us, especially nature. One might say the series serves as an antidote for the problems, challenges, and anxieties of life today in this time-sensitive, technological age. For each of the three volumes, Petersen has come up with the notion of dividing up the songs into thematic chapters or parts. Petersen’s concepts behind the Dimensionen trilogy have a certain imaginative complexity but that is only what I would expect from this creative, highly individual, and gifted performer. Given Mahler’s love of German lyric romantic poetry, combined with his capacity to communicate deep emotions, the absence of the composer’s lieder in any of Petersen’s Dimensionen trilogy is surprising.

With the first album Welt (World) Petersen and pianist Stephan Matthias Lademann explored a century of predominantly Austro/German Romantic Lieder with a theme of the emotional responses of man interacting with his natural surroundings and endeavouring to find the meaning of life
on earth. The second album, entitled Anderswelt (Other World), had the theme of Anderswelt: mystical spirits from folklore such as elves, waterlilies, mermaids, nymphs.

With this new album Innenwelt (Inner World), Petersen, together with pianist Stephan Matthias Lademann, concludes her exceptional project the Dimensionen trilogy. Her choice of songs sparks a musical exploration, conscious and unconscious, into the nocturnal ‘Inner World’ of a magical domain of dreams and fantasy. In this mainly Romantic and post-Romantic programme of songs. renowned Lieder composers Schubert, Liszt, Brahms, Wolf, Richard Strauss and Wagner are joined by three great masters of the French mélodie, specifically Fauré, Duparc and Hahn. Of the remaining composers, the Lied of Reger is sometimes encountered and to a lesser extent Spohr, too. Generally unfamiliar names are the composers Weigl and Rössler both born in the 1880s who were writing up to the 1950/60s. A completely new name, at least to me, is Fürstenthal born in 1920 and still composing into the twenty-first century; he died aged 96. Incidentally, the dates of death of the first-born composer here Schubert and the last-born Fürstenthal span almost one hundred and ninety years.

These fourteen composers have set verse of twenty-two poets including a number of eminent names particularly Dehmel, Heine, Wesendonck, Eichendorff, Hesse and Mörike, with only Eichendorff represented twice. As with the other two volumes the songs have been placed into four thematic chapters. For the Lieder the headings are ‘Night and Dreams’, ‘Inner movement’ and ‘Redemption and Homecoming’, and the mélodies come under the heading ‘Mouvement Intérieur. On Innenwelt there is a certain sameness to many of Petersen’s selections which is no surprise given the album’s chosen themes, and listening at one stretch can easily make demands on the concentration.

An experienced recital performer with Innenwelt, Petersen displays her Lieder credentials strongly. One senses how persuasively her soprano voice and intellect marry with her vocal line and the meaning of the texts. Mightily impressive, too, is Petersen’s clarity of enunciation and strength of projection, although on the downside her tone can be slightly uneven in production and a wider breadth of vocal colour would be beneficial. In Innenwelt, where the predominant mood is of calm and reflection, Petersen is most effective with her restrained melancholy and anguish, conspicuously expressed in Strauss’ Die Nacht, Schubert’s Nacht und Träume and Fauré’s Après un rêve. This chosen repertoire is not overloaded with episodes of powerful drama, yet Petersen accomplishes the high-lying reaches with comparative ease, as displayed in Strauss’ Ruhe, meine Seele and Fauré’s Notre amour. With her customary prowess, Petersen delves deep for the emotional impact of the words and she always seems to unearth something new. Standing out is Petersen’s affecting and exquisite rendition of Wagner’s Träume (from song-cycle Wesendonck-Lieder) which imparts both sincerity and fragility. Included in Strauss’ Beim Schlafengehen, is a guest appearance from violinist Gregor Hübne using his own new arrangement, which works quite well. Entirely on the same page as Petersen throughout, pianist Stephan Matthias Lademann’s impressive accompaniment cannot be faulted.

For this recording, Petersen and Lademann have used the Konzerthaus Blaibach, Bavaria a six-year-old building designed exclusively for music performance with an emphasis on sound quality. This shoebox-shaped structure is sunk deep into the ground at a tilt and has a granite-clad exterior. The auditorium is underground, its interior constructed with concrete walls and some wood panelling, and the stage is a wooden platform. Praise is undoubtedly owed to the engineering team for obtaining such satisfying sound from the Konzerthaus, the balance between voice and piano being ideal. Contained in the booklet is a detailed foreword to the project written by Petersen and Lademann, and an interesting essay ‘Words to the CD’ by Dr. Joachim Reiber. My thanks are owed to the label for providing sung texts with English translations. There is one exception as Duparc’s Chanson triste, a French setting is curiously, translated into German, not English like the others.

On every occasion Marlis Petersen sings, it feels as if she is determined to give the greatest performance of her life. Having played Dimensionen – Innenwelt several times, I feel a profound admiration for Petersen at having created such a compelling album. The opportunity of listening to Petersen’s two previous albums in the Dimensionen trilogy - Welt and Anderswelt cannot come quickly enough.

Michael Cookson


Following the success of Marlis Petersen's Dimensionen trilogy Solo Musica has released a four-CD set entitled Dimensionen - Mensch und Led (Dimensions - Human and Song). This new set includes the three previously released albums in the series plus an additional CD entitled Neue Welt (New World). This comprises seven songs newly recorded in September 2020.   

Karl WEIGL (1881-1949)
1. Seele [01:46]
Nacht und Träume (Night and Dreams)
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
2. Gedichte aus 'Letzte Blätter', Op. 10: No. 3 Die Nacht [02:50]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
3. Nachtwandler, Op. 86, No. 3 [03:03]
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)
4. Eichendorff Lieder: No. 19, Die Nacht [02:28]
Hans SOMMER (1837-1922)
5. Seliges Vergessen, Op. 9 [03:11]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
6. Nacht und Träume, D. 827 [02:45]
Bewegung im Innern (Inner movement)
Max REGER (1873-1916)
7. Schmied Schmerz, Op. 51, No. 6 [01:29]
8. Ruhe, meine Seele, Op. 27, No. 1 [03:07]
Johannes BRAHMS
9. Der Tod, das ist die Kühle Nacht, Op. 96, No. 1 [02:25]
10. Nachtigall, Op. 97, No. 1 [01:54]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
11. Lasst mich ruhen, S. 317 [03:29]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883):
12. Wesendonck Lieder, WWV 91: No. 5, Träume [04:01]
Mouvement Intérieur
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
13. Après un rêve, Op. 7, No. 1 [02:27]
Reynaldo HAHN (1874-1947)
14. À Chloris [02:46]
15. L'Énamourée [03:07]
Henri DUPARC (1848-1933)
16. Chanson triste, Op. 2, No. 4
(à Monsieur Léon Mac Swiney) [03:05]
Gabriel FAURÉ 
17. Notre amour, Op. 23, No. 2 [01:59]
Erlösung und Heimkehr (Redemption and Homecoming)
Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
18. Mörike-Lieder: No. 28, Gebet [02:18]
19. Abend, Op. 79c, No. 1 [01:43]
20. Hohe Liebe, S. 307 [01:52]
Richard RÖSSLER (1880-1962)
21. Vier Lieder: Läuterung, Op. 18, No. 3 [03:51]
22. Vier letzte Lieder: Beim Schlafengehen, TrV 296, No. 3
(arranged by Gregor Hübne for soprano, violin & piano) [05:36]
Robert FÜRSTENTHAL (1920-2016) 
23. Eingang, Op. 13, No. 5 [03:16]

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