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In Arm Der Liebe (Love’s Embrace)
Juliane Banse (soprano)
Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra/Sebastian Wiegle
rec. 2015, Studio 1, Bavarian Radio, Munich
No texts
BR KLASSIK 900322 [54:40]

This series of orchestral songs, some of which will previously be known rather better in piano-accompanied performances (at least that’s my own experience, at least with Pfitzner), make for a most attractive programme. It’s not every day that Braunfels, Korngold, Marx and Pfitzner can be heard in this way and each selection sheds revealing light on the work of fellow composers.

The choice of Joseph Marx’s songs has been particularly well made. These songs are ecstatic or quietly exhilarating, but always evocative examples of Marx’s art, each one rivetingly personal. There’s a burnished if brief violin solo in Und gestern hat er mir Rosen gebracht and the ripe orchestration glows with a Straussian sunset in the lovely Marienlied. In Sommerlied the orchestration is verdant enough to touch; utterly gorgeous. Even in the context of Marx’s opulence Walter Braunfels’ three Chinese Songs fail to wilt. They are beautifully textured, and Braunfels’ felicitous string and wind layering is superbly organised, the lyrical line ravishing. The music expands but doesn’t linger unduly, each song a compressed jewel.

Juliane Banse sings four of Korngold’s set of Sechs einfache Lieder, Op.9. She’s charming in the third of the set, Das Ständchen, a vibrant example of the art of composer and singer, and she brings enough tonal warmth to bear on the beautiful Liebesbriefchen to ensure it comes across with sufficient vibrancy. That element of aliveness is a given in Sommer, where the orchestration is rich and poignant. The five Pfitzner settings are full of contrast. Venus mater was sung back when by Edda Moser, very beautifully indeed, and Juliane Banse can’t quite match her. But she strikes the right conversational note in Gretel, in the rather parlour elements of Untreu und Trost, and in the much darker setting, Nachts (darker in every respect).

Sebastian Weigle directs the Munich Radio Orchestra with finesse and subtlety and it’s a pleasure to hear their contributions. The acoustic is generous, and perhaps a little too generous. It can exacerbate Banse’s rather insistent vibrato and she is, from time to time, inclined to shrillness in the more taxing settings; listen to Braunfels’ Die Geliebte des Kriegers to see if you’ll get on with her. Christine Brewer has all these Marx orchestral songs on Chandos CHAN10505 and she would be my preference for tone production and technique; in the Braunfels settings Camilla Nylund is impressive on Oehms OC1847. The complete Korngold songs are on a 2-CD release from Capriccio C5252. I can’t locate a Pfitzner competitor.

The booklet note is fine if just a little skimpy with detail. Regrettably, though, there are neither texts nor translations. Please don’t tell me I can find them online; I want them in the booklet and so do you.

Despite a few technical questions the artistic level of this disc is high. If you can’t run to Brewer and Nylund and other performers who have essayed the Korngold, then this single disc may be a very satisfactory solution.

Jonathan Woolf
Previous review: Michael Cookson
Track listing
Joseph MARX (1882-1964)
Waldseligkeit (1911) [1:21]
Und gestern hat er mich Rosen gebracht (1909) [2:18]
Der bescheidene Schäfer (1910) [2:07]
Selige Nacht (1912) [2:21]
Sommerlied (1909) [2:21]
Marienlied (1909) [2:35]
Ständchen (1911) [2:03]
Walter BRAUNFELS (1882-1954)
Drei Chinesische Gesänge, Op. 19 (1914) [12:02]
Erich Wolfgang KORNGOLD (1897-1957)
Sechs einfache Lieder (1911-13)
No. 1. Schneeglockchen [3:40]
No. 3. Standchen [2:05]
No. 4. Liebesbriefchen [2:39]
No. 6. Sommer [2:55]
Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949)
Venus mater Op. 11 No. 4 (1901) [4:30]
Trauerstille, Op.26 No.4 (1916) [3:40]
Gretel, Op.11 No.5 (1901) [2:15]
Untreu und Trost, Op.26 No.4 (1916) [2:46]
Nachts Op.26 No.2 (1916) [3:02]



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