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Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen
Ilker Arcayürek (tenor)
Fiona Pollak (piano)
rec. 2018, Funkstudio des SWR Stuttgart, Germany
Sung texts available online
CAVI-MUSIC 8553409 [60:58]

Tenor Ilker Arcayürek was born in Istanbul in Turkey and raised in Vienna. He was finalist of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and has been chosen as a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist. He has appeared widely in Europe but also in USA and Japan. Vienna born Fiona Pollak also studied in Vienna and is active both as organist and pianist. In 2016 they took part in The International Art Song Competition held by the Hugo Wolf Academy in Stuttgart where they were awarded the First Prize. This gave them the opportunity to record this CD.

The programme features songs from the period of the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary around the turn of the century 1900, and they have thrown their net widely to cover more than the most obvious composers of the period. The title of the disc is Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen, which here functions as a starting point for a journey that in due time takes the listener away from Vienna, as far as to the Vojvodina region in the Balkans, which today is part of Serbia.

Mahler’s song cycle is here presented in the rarely heard version for tenor. This means that the piano accompaniment is brighter and more luminous and the atmosphere is lighter, more youthful. This is not the initial impression one gets. Ilker Arcayürek has a lyric, mellifluous and quite plaintive tone in the opening song, Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht. At first I got the impression that the tempo is very slow and he kind of hesitates along the way. And it is probably this lingering that is the culprit, since I checked the timings of this song on a dozen and a half other recordings. Ilker Arcayürek clocks in at 4:10, which is slightly above the average. The fastest is Marianne Beate Kielland at 3:23, which is quite extreme – a difference of 47 seconds – but the slowest is Jessye Norman at 4:45! So Ilker Arcayürek is far from a dragger and the rest of the cycle felt fully normal. Ging heut morgen über’s Feld is lively and joyous with bright tenor tones and conjures forth folksong feeling. The second part is soft and sung legato. Ich hab’ ein glühend Messer is intense and dramatic, as it should be, with penetrating Spitzentöne, and his intensity becomes towards the end almost unbearable. Die zwei blauen Augen is inward and with great restraint but with hushed intensity and when he arrives at Auf der Straße steht ein Lindenbaum it is heartrending. It is in many ways a very individual reading but it works well. Strangely enough Frühlingsmorgen from Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit is indicated as the fifth song of Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen when it rather is a bridge from the cycle to the wayfarer’s story which begins a morning in spring when the young wanderer sets out for his journey.

Well on the road he discovers love for the first time, and that is in unexpected repertoire: two songs by Franz Lehár. Not from any of his operettas but self-contained songs for voice and piano. Richard Tauber recorded them in 1924 and some 20 years ago CPO issued two CDs with Lehár songs. And they are certainly worth hearing. Erste Liebe is quite representative for Lehár the melodist, beautiful with typically Viennese lilt, and the elegant Wenn eine schöne Frau with syncopated rhythms show that the composer had listened to modern dance music. With Hugo Wolf’s Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag’ erhoben from Italienisches Liederbuch he comes to a turning-point when he has been deceived by someone he loved. Still it is sung beautifully and with warmth and none of the harshness one could expect. But the experience forces him to leave and wander away to the distant mountains in the Balkans, where he bemoans his fate in two elegies sung in Serbian. Turning back to his homeland – now that he has grown older – he wanders along the Rhine in Liszt’s setting of Heine’s poem and goes to sleep, lulled by the tones of Ilse Weber’s calm cradle-song. He is confronted with death in the songs of Brahms, sung with great feeling and, as Ilker Arcayürek says in his liner notes, “finally attains the inner peace for which he so yearned” in Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.

I was deeply affected by the entire programme and will return to it for the attractive mix of songs and for the comfort it brings. Unfortunately the link to the lyrics contained texts to a number of other discs but not this one.

Göran Forsling

Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen:
1. No. 1 Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht [4:10]
2. No. 2 Ging heut Morgen über’s Feld [4:27]
3. No. 3 Ich hab‘ ein glühend Messer [3:21]
4. No. 4 Die zwei blauen Augen [5:55]

5. Frühlingsmorgen (from Lieder und Gesänge aus der Jugendzeit) [2:10]
Franz LEHÁR (1870 – 1948)
6. Erste Liebe [4:00]
7. Wenn eine schöne Frau befiehlt [3:08]
Hugo WOLF (1860 – 1903)
8. An die Geliebte [3:04]
9. Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag‘ erhoben (from Italienisches Liederbuch) [2:00]
Stevan HRISTIĆ (1885 – 1958)
10. Elegija [3:40]
Miloje MILOJEVIĆ (1884 – 1946)
11. Jesenja elegija – Elégie d’Automne [3:32]
Franz LISZT (1811 – 1886)
12. Im Rhein in schönen Strome [2:52]
Ilse WEBER (1903 – 1944)
13. Wiegala (Lullaby) [2:21]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833 – 1897)
14. Heimweh III: Ich sah als Knab‘ Blumen blühen, Op. 63 No. 9 [2:38]
15. Heimweh II: O wüsst‘ ich doch den Weg zurück, Op. 63 No. 8 [3:28]
16. Auf dem Kirchhofe Op. 105 No. 4 [2:41]
17. Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen (from Rückert-Lieder) [6:36]

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