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HUGO WOLF (1860-1903)
Orchestral Songs
Harfenspieler I-III
Anakreon's Grab
Den es o Seele
(orch Gunter Raphael)
Gesang Weylas
Herz verzage nicht geschwind
Undwillst du deine Liebsten sterben sehen
Sterb's ich. so hullt in Blumen meine Glieder
(orch Max Reger)
Der freund
Drei Michelangelo-Lieder
(orch Kim Borg)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (bar)
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Stefan Soltesz
rec 26-28 March, 8 June 1990 Bavarian Radio.
ORFEO C 219 911 A [55.27]

The roll-call of poets set by Wolf reads like a Baedecker to high romantic German poetry and includes Goethe, Möricke, Heyse and Eichendorff.

The song with orchestra is a genre the span of which is little appreciated. While people know the Strauss songs (there are many beyond the Four Last Songs) and those by Mahler how many know these by Wolf or the host by Josef Marx, by Hans Pfitzner, Franz Schreker or Zemlinsky? Further afield there are orchestral songs by Delius (note recent Danacord collection), Grieg, Sibelius and, most significant in their spiritual affinity with the exotic Wolf, the songs of Granville Bantock.

The Orfeo collection is extremely valuable and one is left wanting more. After all, according to the note-writer, Wolf fully orchestrated 24 songs. There are 17 here and five of those are orchestrations by other composers including bass, Kim Borg. Max Reger orchestrated four of Wolf's songs (only one featured here) as well as 29 by other composers (Brahms, Grieg, Schumann and Schubert).

Prometheus (at 8.11, the longest song here) is more of an operatic scena, heroic, tragic and storm-riven. It is ringingly sung in all its Wagnerian splendour. Operatic parallels of a different stamp are also to be found in the Don Giovanni sentiments and vivid characterisation of Herz, Verzage nicht geschwind from the Spanisches Liederbuch. The lighter tone is probably closer to the comic opera Der Corregidor (after Alarcon's 'Three-Cornered Hat' - the same novel that inspired the de Falla ballet). Grand romantic opera returns to ruffle and shake the stern setting of Der Freund. Fallibility and fragility show amid the magnificence of the great baritone's voice during moments of high passion. These songs are perhaps an insight into the unfinished opera Manuel Venegas.

The three Goethe Harfenspieler are tenderly shaped with a predictably prominent role for the harp as also in the prayer-like Gesang Weylas. I was set thinking of Bantock's Sappho Fragments (Hyperion). Fischer-Dieskau is extremely affecting, singing with obvious intelligence and sensitivity in the many less dramatic songs such as the beautiful Gebet where a solo violin accompanies him as if carried over from the Bruch violin concerto (No. 1) or the Beethoven. The same can be said of his (and the orchestra's) way with Sterb 'ich. The Schubertian bounce of Denk 'es and Fussreise contrasts with the negation and gloom of Seufzer. The first two of the three Michelangelo Lieder are typically downbeat, not to say depressive, but a welcome lighter note is sustained amid the love-struck despair in the final Fuhlt meine seele.

A remarkable and unhackneyed selection tapping a rich and unexplored vein. Would that Orfeo would now turn to Marx's orchestral songs. They are, going by the handful I know, no less rewarding.

Good documentation and recording. Full texts and translations. Artistry of excellent order from all concerned. Fischer-Dieskau in good voice though clearly working hard and under strain when a helden-tone is demanded.

A highly recommendable disc for late romantic enthusiasts with an interest in lieder.

Rob Barnett


Reger's song orchestrations included:-

BRAHMS: Meine Liebe ist grün and the Wolf songs Der Freund, Das Ständchen, Und willst du, Sterb' ich were included)

SCHUBERT: songs Der Erlkönig D 328, Memnon D 541, An die Musik D 547, An den Mond D 296, Du bist die Ruh' D 776, Drei Gesänge des Harfners D 478, Im Abendrot D 799, Litaney auf das Fest Aller Seelen D 343, Gretchen am Spinnrad D 118, Nacht und Träume D 827, Greisengesang D 778, Gruppe aus dem Tartarus D 583 and Prometheus D 674. Reger, however, arranged various of Wolf's works for several instrumental combinations, say piano reductions (i.e. reductions for piano only) of songs, organ accompaniments of geistliche Lieder and Mörike songs, geistliche Lieder arranged for men's chorus, revisions of the orchestral scores of the Italian Serenade and Christnacht, and Penthesilea and the Italian Serenade arranged for piano 4h. The Schubert song orchestrations have been recorded by CPO and MD&G

I am very grateful to Jürgen Schaarwächter for this information as also for the following list of Reger's involvement with Wolf's music:-

Wolf, Hugo

Christnacht für großes Orchester, Soli und gemischten Chor. Partitur
revidiert von Max Reger und F. Foll. Lauterbach & Kuhn 1903

Geistliche Lieder für eine Singstimme und Orgel bearb. Peters 1908.
Inhalt: a) Geistliche Lieder aus dem Spanischen Liederbuch. 1. Nun bin ich dein
- 2. Die du Gott gebarst - 3. Nun wandre, Maria - 4. Die ihr schwebet um diese
Palmen - 5. Führ' mich, Kind, nach Bethlehem - 6. Ach, des Knaben Augen sind mir
so schön und klar erschienen - 7. Mühvoll komm' ich und beladen - 8. Ach, wie
lang die Seele schlummert! - 9. Herr, was trägt der Boden hier - 10. Wunden
trägst du, mein Geliebter. b) Gedichte von Eduard Mörike. 1. Schlafendes
Jesuskind - 2. Charwoche - 3. Zum neuen Jahr - 4. Gebet (Diese 4 Mörike-Lieder
einzeln. Heckel 1898)

Italienische Serenade für kleines Orchester. Partitur bearb. Lauterbach & Kuhn
1903, desgl. Klavierübertragung für 4 Hände. Lauterbach & Kuhn 1904

Lieder für eine Singstimme und Orchester bearb.: Der Freund; Das
Ständ-chen; Und willst du deinen Liebsten sterben sehen; Sterb' ich, so hüllt in
Blumen meine Glieder - 5. Lieder für eine Singstimme und Orchester bearb. Nr.

12 Mörike-Lieder für Pianoforte solo bearb. (mit hinzugefügtem Text). Peters
1905: 1. Jägerlied - 2. Er ist's - 3. Begegnung - 4. Fußreise - 5. Verborgenheit
- 6. Elfenlied - 7. Der Gärtner - 8. Schlafendes Jesuskind - 9. Gebet - 10. Rat
einer Alten - 11 Gesang Weylas - 12. Selbstgeständnis

Penthesilea. Sinfonische Dichtung. Klavierauszug für 4 Hände bearb.
(Lauterbach & Kuhn 1903)

Sechs geistliche Lieder für gemischten Chor nach Gedichten von Joseph von
Eichendorff. Für Männerchor übertragen. Lauterbach & Kuhn 1903. Nr. 1. Aufblick
- Nr. 2. Einklang (Nachtgruß) - Nr. 3. Resignation (Der Einsiedler) - Nr. 4.
Letzte Bitte (Der Pilger V) - Nr. 5. Ergebung (Der Pilger II) -Nr. 6. Erhebung
(Der Pilger IV)

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