This rather charming disc is part of a project to record and
disseminate German folksongs, Volkslieder (see review
of Volume 1). It involves not only a sequence of CD recordings
but also music books and accompaniment discs. The idea is to
get people singing, presumably mainly German-speaking people.
The project promotes singing with children and for each CD sold
a donation is made to German musical projects. All the artists
have participated without a fee.
Read more For an English-speaking critic the interest of the disc and
associated project is less in the promotion of singing and more
the access to German Volkslieder. Unlike English folk-songs,
which were mainly collected in the late 19th/early
20th century, the songs on this disc appeared in
print in the late 18th/early 19th century.
The booklet, with its colourful drawings, is attractive and
includes full texts and English translations. The individual
songs also include the origin information but only in German
and without any elucidation as to their regional significance.
I would have liked to have learned more about where the songs
came from. It wasn’t really enough to read that ‘In
Märzen der Bauer’ (In March the Farmer) comes
from a collection called “Volkslied aus Mähren”,
published in 1884. I’d like to know a lot more.
The songs are performed in quite a wide variety of styles. The
disc opens with Jonas Kaufmann on top form in ‘Die
Gedanken sind frei’ from a collection published in
Leipzig in 1842, “Schlesiche Volkslieder”. This
is Kaufmann’s only contribution. Most singers perform
just one or two items, thus giving a wide variety of vocal styles.
This complements quite neatly the range of arrangements in which
the songs are presented, though most are straightforward. Other
major names include Kurt Moll who sings a lively rendition of
’O, du lieber Augustin’ and Juliane Banse.
Accompaniment is mainly piano, but we also have guitar, viola
da gamba and even a gamba consort.
In addition to this there are a number of choral versions, from
groups as varied as Die Singphoniker, the children’s chorus
of Stuttgart Staatsoper, the Dresden chamber choir, Singer Pur
and the vocal ensemble Rastatt.
Finally there are several instrumental items, presented for
saxophone and piano, accordion and bassoon, violin and piano.
‘Dat du min Leevst bust’ is notable in this
company being sung by a folk duo in a markedly different style
to the rest of the disc.
The performances are never less than creditable, generally simple
and direct which is what the songs need. These are straightforward
accounts of songs which have made the initial transition from
folk-song to printed art song. No-one tries too hard or tries
to make more of the songs than is needed.
You can treat this disc a number of ways. You might care to
invest in the other media associated with the project and get
singing or you may find it interesting and illuminating as a
backdrop to the development of the German lied and its relation
to the Volkslied. On the other hand you could just sit back
-- Robert Hugill, MusicWeb International Read less