This 6-CD set captures Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Daniel Barenboim in some of their most significant recordings together and features the astonishingly beautiful and highly regarded lieder of Hugo Wolf.
This entertaining CD takes its name from a cantata, which forms one part of this recital devoted to the music of Georg Benda (1722-95), one of a distinguished family of Bohemian musicians who settled in Berlin in the 18th century and became part of the German enlightenment. Georg became Kapellmeister at Gotha in 1750 and gained widespread approval for his compositions and for his skill as a violinist, oboist and keyboard player. Mozart admired Benda’s music and carried two of his melodramas with him on his travels. Hyperion have put together a pretty record containing piano pieces (played here expertly on the fortepiano by Timothy Roberts), lieder and the above cantata for soprano or tenor by two of our best ‘chamber singers’ (which does not mean that they do not sing other genres, only that they excel in this kind of intimate sphere). It might be a good idea not to play the whole hour of music at one go but (say) to have half before dinner and half afterwards.
Although highly productive and respected in his lifetime as a composer of Lieder, Robert Franz (1815–92) has since become a peripheral figure in music history. One reason may be that he avoids dramatic contrasts and instead aims at an emotional ambiguity: ‘My representation of joy is always tinged with melancholy, whilst that of suffering is always accompanied by an exquisite sensation of losing oneself’, he once wrote to Liszt. As a consequence his music appeals to those who are able ‘to admire the nuances of a charcoal drawing without longing for the colours of a painting’, to quote from Georges Starobinski’s liner notes to this recording. As they began to explore the songs of Franz, Starobinski and the baritone Christian Immler were moved by their findings to devise a programme which includes 23 of the composer’s often quite brief songs. Using the poet Heinrich Heine as their guiding star, they present these – all Heine settings but from different opus groups – in the form of two ‘imagined’ song cycles.
A young couple in Berlin’s "Mitte" district. He's lying on the sofa, reading. She can't stand it anymore. In the afternoon the parents come to see the baby. She goes out in the evening. The young man waits desperately. She comes back - but not alone.
The songs that Kathleen Battle chooses for her recital mostly eschew deep drama for sheer lyricism. If you want an album that explores the lyric impulse in Schubert songs, then, this is certainly for you. Battle sings these pieces with unfailingly beautiful vocal production, plus a winning charm and insouciance that border on the–well, girlish, one wants to say, if that isn't entirely politically incorrect. Her voice is a beautiful instrument, no doubt about it…By M. C. Passarella