During the 1920s and 1930s this large-structure song cycle was one of Schoeck's
most frequently performed works. So we are told in Chris Walton's typically
lucid notes. The cycle was premiered by Felix Loeffel with an ensemble conducted
by Schoeck on 19 March 1923 in Bern. Like many another romantic contemporary
of Schoeck he wrote in his own style and resisted (perhaps felt no temptation
towards) the atonalism of these years. He was a true late-romantic.
The cycle sets Lenau and Eichendorff and in doing so immediately occupies
the heartland of the German- lied. There is no orchestral prelude. Schoeck
cuts in immediately with Wehmut and the first thing you notice is
the hiss associated with a recording now 32 years old. The emotional vista
is dark but despite the (soon-effaced) hiss what impresses is the immediacy
and feeling with which Loosli invests the words. Technically we should note
the clarity of Loosli's enunciation and not forget the subtly coloured chamber
textures on which the voice floats.
For Liebesfruhling Loosli adopts a resolute black tone which contrasts
with the inwardness of Stille Sicherheit with its Warlockian curlew
calls, haunt whisperings, wavelets lapping at the shore and splashing in
Frage nicht is funereal and Warnung und Wunsch loud and stormy.
Zweifelnder is lachrymose and Waldlied a vigorous Mahlerian
gusty gale of life like the drunkard in spring. Waldgang is mournful
as are so many of these Schoeck songs. An Den Wind seems to inhabit
the wood dove-echoing wood; the best song so far. Kommen und Scheiden's
opening sombre hymn for the strings gives way to Loosli's honeyed tones.
All of which made me think of Tibbett and I began wondering if he ever sang
in any Schoeck operas. Similarly sombre and intense is Herstentschluss
Vesper and Verlorenes Gluck have more of the same sepulchral
liquid: dunkel ist das leben indeed! Herbstklage is a serenade
with a nice lullaby/folk tune feel. Herbstgefuhl I is darkly liquid
and of wanderingly uncertain tonality. Slowly paced, its mood is very much
of a piece with the rest of the cycle.
Nachklang chuckles and whispers quietly while the Bernard Herrmann
haunted atmosphere of Das Mondlicht takes us back to the central mood
of elegy similarly followed in Vergangenheit. Waldied is another
nightmare ride à la Fuselli.
I will not comment on all the songs but note that common to most of them
is a gentle ebb and flow, a wandering by the edge of a desolate lake and
a sense of resignation: all flesh is grass, cowbells chime and Hassan's caravan
passes into a lachrymose eternity.
The insert booklet contains all the texts in German only.
The quality of the recording cannot hope to compete with the 1998 CPO disc
(see review). However the artistry in
evidence from Loosli is deeply moving and marginally has the edge in
interpretative terms over the CPO team.