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Robert FRANZ (1815-1892) Songs
Robin Tritschler (tenor)
Graham Johnson (piano)
rec. All Saints’ Church, East Finchley, London, England, February and December 2015 HYPERION CDA68128 [77:24]
For most people, myself included, the name of Robert Franz was a mere footnote in the history of music and lieder in particular, and this despite Elisabeth Schuman in her 1948 book, German Song, stating that “The outstanding composer of song among them was Robert Franz; some critics accord him the place beside the great masters”(p.64) with my own CD collection only contained a few examples of his songs, this despite the art song being a particular favourite of mine. He was born in Halle and spent much of his life there, becoming the director of the local Academy of Music, a position he held until 1841 when growing deafness forced him to resign. He composed over 300 songs and was much admired by the likes of Robert Schumann, Brahms and Liszt; although as a miniaturist this admiration waned when he failed to produce any works on a grander scale. His music enjoyed a certain popularity amongst the public, mainly due to their accessibility to the amateur performer, his songs being seen as more approachable than the denser piano writing of the Schumann’s lieder; however, after Franz’s death, and the new appreciation of Schumann, his music soon slipped into obscurity.
On this present well-filled disc we are treated to 47 songs, some compact pieces lasting less than a minute, while others, even when brief, are more developed and very attractive, these include ‘Aus meinen grossen schmerzen’, the only one of the four Franz songs to appear in the Faber Book of Lieder. More of his songs appear in the Fischer-Diskau book of Lieder, twenty-seven to be exact of which only a handful appear on this disc, including the mini masterpieces ‘Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen’ and his setting of Goethe’s ‘Wonne der Wehmut’. These are songs which very much deserve to be heard. Franz’s style may not be as original as the music of Schubert and Beethoven or as musically demanding and complex as that of Schumann and Brahms, but these songs still have a significant place and validity within the pantheon of works by great lieder composers.
The tenor Robin Tritschler is new to me but he has a tone that suits this music well, whether he is called to perform with a sweet inflection in his voice or a darker more menacing one, he seems at home. As with all discs by Graham Johnson, he proves himself a consummate accompanist, and not just on the piano, his booklet notes, as ever, are exemplary, with an introduction to the composer as well as brief notes on the poets and every song. The recorded sound is excellent, both natural and sympathetic to the music making this a most valuable disc of, on this evidence, a most unjustly neglected composer.
Mailied, Op. 33 No. 3 Gleich und gleich, Op. 22 No. 1 Wonne der Wehmut, Op. 33 No. 1 Im Sommer, Op. 16 No. 2 Rastlose Liebe, Op. 33 No. 6 Liebliche Maid!, Op. 4 No. 3 O säh’ ich auf der Haide dort, Op. 1 No. 5 Schlummerlied, Op. 1 No. 10 Romanze, Op. 35 No. 4 Jagdlied Op. 1 No. 9 Der vielschönen Fraue, Op. 10 No. 4 Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, Op. 25 No. 5 Die Rose, die Lilie, Op. 34 No. 5 Wenn ich in deine Augen seh’, Op. 44 No. 5 Ich will meine Seele tauchen, Op. 43 No. 4 Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome, Op. 18 No. 2 Hör’ ich das Liedchen klingen, Op. 5 No. 11 Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen, Op. 11 No. 2 Ich hab' im Traume geweinet, Op. 25 No. 3 Allnächtlich im Traume, Op. 9 No. 4 Die Lotosblume, Op. 25 No. 1 Lieb' Liebchen, Op. 17 No. 3 Es treibt mich hin Ja, du bist elend, Op. 7 No. 6 Durch den Wald im Mondenscheine, Op. 8 No. 3 Wie des Mondes Abbild Auf dem Meere Ich lieb’ eine Blume, Op. 28 No. 1 Aus meinen grossen schmerzen Es fällt ein Stern herunter, Op. 44 No. 4 Der Fichtenbaum, Op. 16 No. 3 Das ist ein Brausen und Heulen, Op. 8 No. 4 Auf dem Meere, Op. 5 No. 3 Sterne mit den goldnen Füßchen? Traumbild, Op. 34 No. 3 Madchen mit dem roten Mundchen, Op. 5 No. 5 Frühlingsgedränge, Op. 7 No. 5 Um Mitternacht, Op. 28 No. 6 Ein Stündlein wohl vor Tag, Op. 28 No. 2 Verborgenheit, Op. 28 No. 5 Waldfahrt, Op. 14 No. 3 Die Lotosblume, Op. 1 No. 3 Voglein, wohin so schnell, Op. 11 No. 1 Für Musik Ach, wenn ich doch ein Immchen wär, Op. 3 No. 6 Um Mitternacht, Op. 16 No. 6 Genesung