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Antonio SALIERI (1750-1825)
Lieder – Songs and Duets with Piano
Ilse Eerens (soprano)
Annelie Sophie Müller (mezzo)
Ulrich Eisenlohr (fortepiano)
rec. Konzertsaal Musikhochschule Trossingen, 24-29 September 2012
Full Track-List at end of review<
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC 93.307 [67:14]

Born in Legnago, which at the time was part of the Republic of Venice, Salieri was a protégé of Gluck. He spent most of his life from the age of sixteen in the service of the Habsburgs in Vienna. There he became director of Italian opera in 1774, composing over forty operas himself. He held this court position until 1792 whilst at the same time being the Austrian Imperial Kapellmeister. He is seen as a major figure in the development of opera in the eighteenth century, with his compositions being widely performed throughout Europe. He gained popularity during his lifetime but soon fell out of favour after his death, with his music finding a renewed popularity due to the film ‘Amadeus’. Despite what Peter Shaffer would have us believe there is no evidence that Salieri had any part in the death of Mozart. He was also seen as one of the most significant and influential teachers of the period with his pupils including Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt.

Salieri did not come to compose songs until he was well established throughout Europe as a composer of opera. His biographer, Ignaz von Mosel, suggests that he was in his forties when he began to compose the short vocal works showcased on this CD. He kept composing these occasional works until just before he was committed to medical care suffering from what was probably dementia some eighteen months before his death. The songs presented on this disc have character and charm, although given the choice, I would prefer to listen to the songs of Haydn with all their variety and brilliance. Indeed Haydn's songs can be seen to have been an influence on some of the Salieri songs, with others having the air of a pared-down operatic aria. An example of this latter aspect can be hear in Sonetto - Il Genio degli Stati Veneti, which is about his loyalties divided between the place of his birth and the Habsburgs as they invaded Venice in 1798. There are however quite a few songs here which merit being in the regular lieder repertoire. Several in the collection known as Divertimenti vocali deserve repeated listening, while the Cavatina – Pensieri funesti, his Ode: Deh, si piacevoli, his Der Zufriedene and his final song, the wonderful Andenken, would grace any lieder recital.

The performances are good. At first I found Annelie Sophie Müller’s mezzo a bit on the plummy side but that was mainly due to the dramatic nature of the first song. Her voice really suites the rest of the songs. Ilse Eerens has an attractive clear soprano voice which also is apt to this material; however, it is when they sing together that you appreciate just how well they have been matched. Ulrich Eisenlohr proves himself to be a thoughtful interpreter as well as an intelligent accompanist. The booklet notes are informative and add helpful background. Full song texts and translations are given. This is so helpful when the works are new to you.

Stuart Sillitoe

Full Track-List

1. Il Genio degli Stati Veneti [2:58]

Divertimenti vocali
2. No. 5. Pastorella io giurerei [1:46]
3. No. 10. Ch'io mai vi possa [2:05]
4. No. 2. Gia la note [2:28]
5. No. 7. Bei labbri [2:59]
6. No. 26. Abbiam pennato, e ver [2:40]
7. No. 22. Caro, son tua così [2:41]
8. No. 14. Conservati fedele [2:26]
9. No. 11. Numi, se giusti siete [2:15]
10. No. 24. Spiegarti non poss'io [3:32]
11. No. 8. Ha negl'occhi [1:55]
12. No. 9. Vedi quanto t'adoro [3:08]
13. No. 17. Tornate serene [2:25]
14. No. 3. Vuoi per sempre [2:17]
15. No. 16. Ombre amene [2:25]
16. No. 27. Niso, che fa il tuo core [3:24]

17. Cavatina: Pensieri funesti [3:52]
18. Deh, si piacevoli [5:57]
19. In questa tomba oscura (1st setting) [2:18]
20. In questa tomba oscura (2nd setting) [1:16]
21. 3 Romances: No. 3. Appel a l'amour [3:14]
22. Der Zufriedene [1:25]
23. Meine hochste Wonne [2:43]
24. Maylied [2:04]
25. An die zukunftige Geliebte [3:02]
26. Andenken [2:13]