Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Mörike Lieder; Goethe Lieder
Barbara Hendricks (soprano) Roland Pontinen (piano).
EMI Classics CDC5 56988 2 7 (DDD) [72.13]
Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Morike Lieder
Auf eine Christblume 1
Auf eine Christhiume 2
Nixe Binsefub
Schlafendes Jesuskind
Der Knabe und das Immlein
In der Fruhe
Auf einer Wanderung
Nimmersatte Liebe
Das verlassene Madlein
Der Gartner
Lebe wohl
Er ist's
Goethe Lieder
Fruhling ubers Jahr
Die Sprode
Die Bekehrte
Mignon 1
Mignon 2
Mignon 3

A super disc with some very lovely performances that I will treasure. Listen to the magnificent Nixe Binsefub. What clarity and sparkle. Very well sung and the difficult piano part marvellously realised.

And after two profound settings of Auf eine Christblume, I could but only admire the pianist's wonderful chord playing in Schlafendes Jesuskind. Every nuance is there and Hendricks is equally superb.

Hugo Wolf produced mainly songs and has been dismissed as a miniaturist. Yet he could write three a day and lose nothing of the essential inspiration. His songs are vastly better than those of Schubert for, as the sleeve note says, there is more emotional colouring. His songs have culture as well. For someone so nervous and moody how could he write such exquisitely beautiful songs? The excellent notes by Andre Tubeuf show great insight and reminds us that one of Wolf's greatest assets was that he was not a wallower. He was truly dedicated spending years with the works of Morike and understanding them so well that he could envelop them in wonderful musical settings

Listen to the sublime vocal line of Der Knabe und das Immlein and the infectious impetus of Begegnung all remarkably well performed.

Hendricks captures the spirituality of Morike to perfection. The modulations of In der Fruhe and the sheer poignancy is a joy to hear. Her long high note in the middle of the song is so tellingly beautiful, so human, so soul satisfying, so real and the whole song is unbelievably evocative.

As a contrast listen to the joy of Auf einer Wanderung

I feel enraptured, lost in joy.
O Muse, thou hast quickened my heart
With the thrill of love

Consider the performers understanding of Niminersatte Liebe, a perfect song sung and played so well and with feelings that are never allowed to be mawkish

Love, love, at all times it brings
new and strange joys;
We bit one another's lips sore
when we were kissing today.
The girl kept perfectly still
like the lamb under the knife
her eyes said, "Just go on,
the more painful the better"

Here Hendricks' range is on full display.

She is a wonderful exemplar of the famous phrase, "Some music is taught, some is caught." Der Gartner is a real delight and the concertante style of Er ist's is quite stunning. Goethe was obsessed with Mignon the lost child sister to the coquette Gretchen. Three Mignon songs are included. They are nothing short of unique in their range of expression.

Hugo Wolf suffered from mental illness probably due to the extreme emotional input of these masterpieces which taxed all his mental powers. However tragic that is, and it is, we do have these gems to value.

A super recital.

David Wright

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