Der Postillon (Lenau), or more accurately a few moments from Der
Postillon, was my initiation into Schoeck's music. During the early 1980s
BBC Radio Three's 'Music Magazine' included a ten minute illustrated profile
of Schoeck. The presenter/writer was Sibelius expert, Robert Layton. He played
the section of Der Postillon where Haefliger is at the top of his
range and the orchestral ensemble's French horn ecstatically echoes the voice.
This is a delight not to be missed. The moment parallels the sublime sweet
harmony episode in Vaughan Williams' Serenade to Music. The
whole thing plays for five seconds short of ten minutes.
Mit einem gemalten Band (Goethe) is simple, Mozartian and utterly
affecting. Marienlied (Novalis) is impressive and enticingly concentrated
though not driving away memories of Joseph Marx's even more memorable setting.
Peregrina II (Morike) is dark, straining at the gloomier lower boundaries
of Haefliger's noble range.
The choral settings are An einem heitern Morgen (Uhland); Sehnsucht
(Eichendorff); Ein Voglein singt im Walde (Ritter); Es ist
bestimmt in Gottes Rath (Feuchtersleben) and Agnes (Morike).
Agnes is notable for really quiet singing. The style is rather Brahmsian.
's Seeli (Lienert) is for male chorus and is a dialect setting for
huskily honeyed voices and Zimmerspruch (Uhland) is in the character
of a round.
Now for the solo songs in which Haefliger is partnered by Karl Grenacher.
Im kreuzgang von St. Stefano (Hesse) is a Hardyesque song recalling
Gerald Finzi's settings of that poet. Walvogelein (Leuthold) has some
striking bird call effects predictably (but well) echoed by the piano - really
unleashing the song in ecstasy in last of the four verses. Haefliger's legendary
purity, enunciation and line is well used here. I wish Ian Partridge had
recorded these pieces as he has a similarly pure line in enunciation and
The analogue sound is good and solid. The hiss suppression is not as subtly
applied as it might have been but rarely distracts.
Good notes in English and German. Song texts in German only. This disc was
released on CD in 1988 the year before Haefliger's seventieth birthday. He
was 48 when he made these tapes.
This disc (which these days is rather short on playing time) is de rigueur
for Haefliger-fanciers and the growing band of Schoeck hunters. Recommended
especially for Der Postillon - sheer serene splendour! We can also
hope that the world's choirs will listen to this disc and discover some new
material for choral competition and concert.