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Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Aschenbrödel Op. 150 (1878) [39:00]
Der Schweinehirt Op. 286 [32:06]
Rebecca Blanz (mezzo-soprano)
Gun Youg An (soprano)
Martin Christian Vogel (speaker)
Cornelia Weiß (piano)
Peter Kreutz (piano)
rec. 2016, Konzerthaus der Hochschule für Musik, Detmold, Germany
CPO 555 084-2 [71:16]

Born in the then Danish city of Altona, the composer Carl Reinecke can in some ways be described as the German Saint-Saëns, both began composing at a tender age, in Reinecke’s case he was seven, and he gave his first public performance as a pianist at the age of twelve, Saint-Saëns was to give his at the even younger age of ten. He was also seen, like his French contemporary, as being too conservative, his music being too backward looking for the turn of the nineteenth century, this is especially true of his dramatic works with his operas and operettas soon being forgotten.

He studied with Felix Mendelssohn and went on to conduct his orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, for over thirty years, and Mendelssohn’s influence can be seen in Reinecker’s music. This clearly evident in the first work presented here, his melodrama Aschenbrödel, for soloists, women’s chorus, speaker and piano. This is an unusual work as melodramas go, as a lot of the melodies are carried by the chorus, with the piano mainly serving to support them. The story is based upon Grimm’s telling of the fairy tale Cinderella with a libretto by Heinrich Carsten. The music is highly romantic in nature with some of the choral writing reminding me of the female chorus from Mendelssohn’s Ein Sommernachtstraum. When the piano is given free reign, as in those narratives with music and the solo arias, it shows the influence of another of his teachers, Robert Schumann.

The second work on this disc, Der Schweinehirt or the Swineherd, is based upon another fairy tale, this time by Hans Christian Andersen, and could not be more different in that it is a more traditional melodrama, with the spoken being interspersed with musical pieces, although this time for piano four-hands. The music is attractive and illustrates well the text, with the composers use of the nursery tune in ‘Der singende Topf’ fitting well. It is however less dramatic than in the melodramas of his teachers Schumann especially Schön Hedwig and Liszt’s Lenore, and lacks the impact of Richard Strauss’ Enoch Arden, which looking at the opus numbers must be from the same period.

This is an interesting and nicely crafted disc, but not one for those who don’t like a lot of spoken text, though I personally like melodramas; nor is it a disc with which to begin a collection of Reinecke’s music. The performance is excellent with Martin Christian Vogel having an ideal voice for the spoken parts, he has a background in music, something I always find important in melodramas. The two soloists are in fine voice whilst the chorus, which seems to have been brought together especially for this recording by the chorus master Hagen Enke, sound as if they have been singing together for a long time; as with any melodrama the pianist is key, and I am glad to say that both Cornelia Weiß and Peter Kreutz make a significant impact on these works. The recorded sound is very good whilst the booklet notes give an introduction to both the composer and his music as well as full texts in both German and English.

Stuart Sillitoe



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