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Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921)
Adelheid WETTE (1858-1916)
Deutsches Kinder-Liederbuch (A German Children’s Songbook) (excerpts) (1893)
Klaus Mertens (baritone), Thomas Fritzsch (viola da gamba), Masako Art (harp), Margit Übellacker (dulcimer), Hanover Boys Choir/Jörg Breiding
rec. 27-29 February 2020, Stiftskirche, Hannover-Stephansstift, Germany
Booklet with notes in English and German, Song texts in German only offered as a PDF download from the Rondeau website
RONDEAU ROP6202 [71:03]

This release is the first commercial recording of Engelbert Humperdinck’s Anthology of children’s songs that he produced along with his sister, Adelheid Wette for the Perthes publishing house in 1903. The 43 songs on this CD are primarily those written by Humperdinck, but it includes a few which use traditional folk music, and a couple which were adapted from music by other composers including Mozart, Weber, and Schumann. The original anthology contained a total of 72 songs so this is a fairly good sampling of what was published.

These songs fall at nearly the midpoint between his writing of the Wagnerian children’s opera Hänsel und Gretel in 1893 and the lush, melancholy romanticism of the still under-appreciated Königskinder in 1910. This might lead one to think that these songs are heavy-handed and the sort of thing that only adults with Wagnerian tastes might appreciate. Based on what is programmed on this CD that is definitely not the case. Humperdinck’s songs have a light sing-song style that is similar to the Song of the Toadstool (Rätsel) that Gretel sings in the Second Act of Hänsel und Gretel, which Humperdinck included both in his anthology and on this CD. In fact the general impression I receive from hearing these songs is that they all sound much too similar to one another and should not be sampled all in one sitting. Any sense of one song being differentiated from another would have come from the text alone and, alas, for those unfamiliar with German, Rondeau has not been able to provide any English translation of the song texts. This makes the release of value only to those who want to complete their collection of music by Humperdinck.

The songs are performed with sincerity and taste by Klaus Mertens, some as solos with minimal instrumental accompaniment, and some with the sweet-sounding Hannover Children’s chorus. Mertens allows the sound of the texts to come through by draining his voice of any mature overtones and producing a series of light, linear-sounding vocals that are practically transparent. Frühlings Ankunft is yet another song based on the “Ah! Vous dirais-je maman” variations. The delightful song Frühlingsbotschaft is enchantingly performed by the children’s choir. The most charming of all the songs has to be the simple and playful Vogelhochzeit, a song about a wedding entirely enacted by birds. The three instrumentalists add enormously to the atmosphere of the CD.

The CD has been engineered with fine immediacy to the sound, and the booklet has excellent notes in German and English. A handful of beautiful illustrations have been included from among the traditional Hummel paintings. The music is most attractively presented but this CD is best appreciated as pleasant background music rather than more immersive listening.

Mike Parr

Contents

No. 48, Schäferin suchen (2:14)
No. 32, Jäger und Hase (1:24)
No. 6, Heraus aus dem Lager (1:03)
No. 10, Frühlingsweben (1:12)
No. 46, Die Mühle (1:19)
No. 12, Frühlings Ankunft (1:19)
No. 25, Wenn ich ein Vöglein wär (1:29)
No. 11, Frühlingsbotschaft (0:44)
No. 39, Die Schwalbe (1:17)
No. 13, Des Storches Wiederkehr (1:33)
No. 54, Es fing ein Knab' ein Vögelein (1:34)
No. 38, Nachtigallen und Frösche (1:22)
No. 30, Warnung (1:00)
No. 9, An den Mai (1:18)
No. 15, Bienchen summ! (1:17)
No. 37, Vogelhochzeit (4:16)
No. 29, Das Füchslein (1:17)
No. 20, Rätsel (0:47)
No. 19, Das Waldhorn (1:16)
No. 27, Johanniskäfer (1:48)
No. 21, Sommertag (1:20)
No. 35, Marienwürmchen (2:02)
No. 71, Erwacht von Schlaf und Träumen (1:00)
No. 53, Das Pappelmaul (2:25)
No. 31, Suse, liebe Suse (1:35)
No. 50, Rätsellied (3:59)
No. 24, Vöglein, Blümlein und Wässerlein (1:36)
No. 17, Waldlied (1:14)
No. 22, Ward ein Blümchen mir geschenket (2:26)
No. 47, Gute Nacht! (3:03)
No. 3, Schlaf, Herzenskind (3:00)
No. 1, Wiegenlied (1:19)
No. 5, Goldengelein (0:51)
No. 8, Kinderwacht (1:57)
No. 70, O wie wohl ist mir am Abend (1:27)
No. 64, Sonntag (1:16)
No. 2, Tick Tack Ührchen (1:13)
No. 72, Große Uhren gehen Tick, Tack! (1:04)
No. 28, Puthühneken (1:13)
No. 40, Was streicht der Kater seinen Bart (2:09)
No. 51, Lügenlied (3:06)
No. 44, Das Steckenpferd (0:43)
No. 55, Der Jäger aus Kurpfalz (1:13)



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