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Lieder im Volkston
Regula Mühlemann (soprano)
Okka von der Damerau (mezzo-soprano)
Wolfgang Schwaiger (baritone)
Tareq Nazmi (bass)
Adrian Baianu (piano)
rec. 2016, Studio 2, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich
Sung texts enclosed

Around the turn of the century 1900 the interest in folksong blossomed in the German speaking world. Folksong collections were issued en masse and this spurred the journal Die Woche in 1903 to invite well-known composers to write Lieder im Volkston (songs in the popular style) to be published in a special issue. This was followed by another issue, to which the public was invited to submit simple songs in popular style lasting no more than 50 bars. The interest was enormous: 8,859 songs were submitted for a jury to choose the best 30 from. There was even a third round. What is recorded on this disc is almost all the songs of the first issue Im Volkston. A four-part choral song was excluded and replaced by a song by Max Reger that the jury had rejected. Reger naturally reacted to that decision and had it published through the Süddeutsche Monatshefte. The many turnabouts in this matter are vividly described in the liner notes. Anyway, on the present disc Reger’s Waldeinsamkeit is presented first, followed by the more fortunate composers in strict alphabetic order. Browsing through the list you will probably find a lot of today unknown names but also some that have survived, although rather marginalized in several cases. Eugen d’Albert’s opera Tiefland – premiered the same year that the Im Volkston project took place – is still played once in a while and it has been recorded a couple of times. Leo Blech is best remembered as an important conductor. Friedrich Gernsheim’s four symphonies were recorded some years ago and other works have also been issued fairly recently. Eugen Hildach wrote a lot of songs of which Der Lenz was very popular and it was frequently recorded in olden times. Engelbert Humperdinck became a well-known name in the popular music world when Arnold George Dorsey adopted it. But the original Humperdinck’s music is still played, in particular his Wagner-influenced opera Hänsel und Gretel (1893). Wilhelm Kienzl is also remembered for an opera, Der Evangelimann (1894). Also Hans Pfitzner’s fame rests on an opera, Palestrina from 1917. Carl Reinecke is the oldest of the composers represented here. He was 79 when Im Volkston was published and when he was born in 1824, Beethoven and Schubert were still alive. His total oeuvre is enormous and a lot of it has been recorded, but possibly his greatest achievement was his teaching. Bruch, Sullivan, Grieg and Svendsen were among his pupils. Max von Schillings has also left some imprints in music history: His opera Mona Lisa (1915) was an international success and was performed at the Metropolitan Opera. Ludwig Thuille’s music has also been fostered by the record companies: chamber music, the complete piano music and several volumes of songs are available. Finally Siegfried Wagner, besides being the son of his famous father he was deeply involved in the Bayreuth Festival and took over the leadership after his mother Cosima in 1908. But he also composed about a dozen operas. Further research concerning the remaining composers would have been interesting – and time-consuming, so I leave that to the individual readers.

Instead – over to the songs. Generally speaking they are attractive, rather simple – as they should be according to the instructions – melodious and – often – unpretentious. What you like or dislike depends of course on your personal taste. I have picked some that I felt tempted to return to, but I’m sure other listeners will find their own favourites. The opening Reger song is beautiful and I can understand his disappointment when it was returned to him “with simple thanks”. Reinhold Becker’s Niederländisches Wiegenlied is also very beautiful. Ignaz Brüll’s Nachtwandler is lively and humoristic, a breath of fresh air indeed. That’s also the case with August Bungert and Frau Holle. Philipp zu Eulenburg has two songs – very short – and the second of them, Treugedenken, goes to my list. I only knew Friedrich Gernsheim through his four symphonies, solid but not so inspired. Abendlied has a great deal of charm. Having liked Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel for many years, and also enjoyed some of his other operas as well, it came as no surprise that Rosmarin was a real charmer, especially when so glitteringly sung by Regula Mühlemann. Lively and sprightly is Kienzl’s Rieke im Manöver singt. Eduard Lassen, born in Denmark, has written a song that is just as fun as its title, Hoppoldey. Not least the accompaniment is fresh and personal. Pfitzner’s Untreu und Trost is attractive and old Reinecke’s Rheinisch Volkslied is beautiful. Finally Bogumil Zepler’s Im Laubengang deserves a place on my list.

What is a further asset with this production is the outstanding singing of the four soloists. Regula Mühlemann is the only one I have encountered before. She was a “cute and innocent” Barbarina in Nézet-Séguin’s recent Le nozze di Figaro from Deutsche Grammophon, and I greatly admired her recital disc with, mostly, fairly rare Mozart arias, on Sony. She is just as beguiling here. But her colleagues are just as expert at investing these songs with life, meaning and vocal beauty. I would even go as far as saying: even though you are not the least interested in the repertoire you will find great pleasure in savouring these fresh, youthful, well-schooled and expressive singers. Adrian Baianu accompanies meritoriously and the recording, set down in three days, is all one could wish.

Göran Forsling

Max REGER (1873 – 1916)
1. Waldeinsamkeit [1:28]
Eugen d’ALBERT (1864 – 1932)
2. Rosmarin [1:44]
Reinhold BECKER (1842 – 1924)
3. Niederländisches Wiegenlied [2:07]
Wilhelm BERGER (1861 – 1911)
4. Nein und ja [2:24]
Leo BLECH (1871 – 1958)
5. Schön Rothraut [3:39]
Ignaz BRÜLL (1846 – 1907)
6. Nachtwandler [1:52]
August BUNGERT (1846 – 1915)
7. Frau Holle [2:54]
Johannes DOEBBER (1866 – 1921)
8. So einer war auch er [2:09]
Philipp zu EULENBURG (1847 – 1921)
9. Wir beide – 1. Am Strande [1:29]
10. Wir beide – 2. Treugedenken [1:48]
Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839 – 1916)
11. Abendlied [2:57]
Adalbert von GOLDSCHMIDT (1848 – 1906)
12. Gebet [1:04]
Hans HERMANN (1870 – 1931)
13. Das Ringlein sprang entzwei[1:10]
Eugen HILDACH (1849 – 1924)
14. Der Schnitter [1:12]
Bolko Graf von HOCHBERG (1843 – 1926)
15. Der schönste Tod [1:55]
Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854 – 1921)
16. Rosmarin [2:56]
Robert KAHN (1865 – 1951)
17. Volkslied [1:47]
Wilhelm KIENZL (1857 – 1941)
18. Rieke im Manöver singt [3:52]
Arno KLEFFEL (1840 – 1913)
19. Ich denke oft an’s blaue Meer [1:42]
Henning von KOSS (1855 – 1913)
20. Die Verlassene [2:35]
Eduard LASSEN (1830 – 1904)
21. Hoppoldey [2:14]
Siegfried OCHS (1858 – 1929)
22. Vom Mond und den Sternlein [1:15]
Hans PFITZNER (1869 – 1949)
23. Untreu und Trost [2:08]
Carl REINECKE (1824 – 1910)
24. Rheinisches Volkslied [2:39]
Max SCHILLINGS (1868 – 1933)
25. Ach, Herzigs Herz! [2:56]
Georg SCHUMANN (1866 – 1952)
26. Vögleins Begräbnis [1:27]
Hans SOMMER (1837 – 1922)
27. Soldatenabschied [1:56]
Ludwig THUILLE (1861 – 1907)
28. Von alten Liebesliedern [2:21]
Siegfried WAGNER (1869 – 1930)
29. Schäfer und Schäferin [1:20]
Bogumil ZEPLER (1858 – 1918)
30. Im Laubengang [3:24]
Herman ZUMPE (1850 – 1903)
31. Aus dem schöne Schwabeländche – 1. Im Herbscht [0:49]
32. Aus dem schöne Schwabeländche – 2. Unterm Fenschter [0:48]



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