Frauke May (mezzosoprano)
Bernhard Renzikowski (piano)
Classics 74321 75076-2 [61.25]
Sommernacht. Der gute Rat. Aus den Himmelsaugen. Verlassen hab'
ich mein Lieb. Um Mittermacht bluhen die Blumen. Die Glocke des Glucks. Gebet.
Winterahnung. Die Nixe. Gluck Abschied. Stelldichein. Sehnsucht. Morgen.
Kindergeschichte. Der Himmel hat ein Trane geweint. Flieder. Gute Nacht.
Ach Liebster in Gedanken. Am Dorfsee. Mein Traum. Lied eines Madchens. Schmied
Schmerz. Mutter tote Mutter. Friede. Zwei Maschen. Gluckes genug. Darum
Wiegenlied. In der Fruhe.
This is a welcome set of 30 songs, ten of which are receiving their world
premiere recording and another the world premiere of the voice and piano
After Schubert, Reger wrote the most songs and they probably number about
300. His songs are very different from Schubert's in that his songs are more
substantial not just pretty tunes repeated over and over with banal
accompaniments although I have to admit that there are Schubert songs that
are sublime. Reger's songs are not so immediate because they are not superficial.
I am sorry that the booklet does not give English translations of the texts
but with my limited German I can see that Reger is simply brilliant at the
marriage of words with music. It may be true to say that none of these songs
are masterpieces but they all have a consistent quality.
Song recitals are, sadly, not popular. Most music lovers seem to go in for
the big orchestral scores or piano music with fire or stirring choral works.
The intimacy of lieder is not a priority with most people.
I have to say that Ms May is a super singer and this accompanist is the best
I have heard in over forty years. The performances are very fine.
The only other reservations is that the songs are all mainly slow, or moderately
paced in tempo and a contrast of some of his more lively songs may have been
Sommernacht is a wistful but strong song with a beautifully shaped
vocal line and a superbly sensitive piano accompaniment. Der Gute Rat
is a marvellous example of controlled humour. Aus den Himmelsaugen
has a simplicity which adds to its charm and innocence, reminiscent of
Schumann's masterpiece, A Woman's Life and Love. Verlassen hab ich mein
Lieb is a wonderful song somewhat understated by the composer who is
not out to show off but to caress and enhance Engel's words. Un Mitternacht
is even more endearing. Die Glocke des Glucke has a marvellous
innocence expertly captured here. Note the singer's magnificent velvet tone
at the words Tiefe Glock meines Gluckes. Very evocative. Choice.
Gebet has a simplicity but suffers from the Schubertian weakness of
the piano playing the vocal line, but later, there are some telling piano
figures. The closing vocal line is superb.
Winterahnung is a gem, immediate, memorable direct and beautifully
executed. The atmosphere is perfectly caught. Die Nixe is another
example of the telling low notes of this terrfic singer where the drama is
caught . The demanding part for the piano is controlled. No show offs here
and the result is simply first class. Gluck seems to have a vocal
smudge at one point but it is a song that I did not know and so I could be
wrong. What is clear is the singer's total commitment and these songs belie
the unfair criticism that Reger's music is complex. Absehied is more
animated but the control is such that it can only to be marvelled at.
Stelldichein is immediately impressive with an infectious
light-heartedness. Sehnsucht is another "velvet" song whereas Morgen
captures the stillness of the early morning. This version may not have
the prettiness of Richard Strauss or the sickly sentiment of Schubert. It
is more serious and far more effective.
I could go on.
Gute Nacht is not a lullaby but a robust song. Mein Traum is
truly exquisite and shows again what magnificent accompaniments Reger wrote.
Nothing banal or academic here. Schmied Schmerz has a terrific piano
part but all under control. Friede is deeply sensual and see if you
can detect Offenbach in Wiegenlied.
Sadly this important disc will not appeal to the shallow music lover but,
for me it is very welcome and I hope there are more Reger songs to come from
this splendid pair.
See also review by Peter Grahame Woolf