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Cornelius: Lieder, Vol. 4 / Landshamer, Schafer, Begemann, Hausmann, Veit

Release Date: 04/29/2014 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 572859   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Peter Cornelius
Performer:  Hans Christoph BegemannChristina LandshamerMarkus SchäferMathias Hausmann,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 25 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CORNELIUS 9 Geistliche Lieder, “Vater unser.” Marienlieder, “Vergine.” Ave Maria. Weihnachtslieder Christina Landshamer (s); Markus Schäfer (t); Hans Christoph Begemann (bar); Mathias Hausmann (bar); Matthias Veit (pn) NAXOS 8.572859 (57:16 Text and Translation)

As I have done before, I include Fanfare ’s icon for included text in the headnote, but add here the caveat that the texts and translations do not come with the Read more disc, but rather must be downloaded from Naxos’s web site (they provide the link), and the result can be a printout that is clumsy for storage. I will continue to repeat my wish that Naxos would make available discs with printed texts for an extra dollar.

Naxos identifies this as the last of the four-volume edition of the Lieder of Peter Cornelius (1824–1874), and this one is good enough to make me want to obtain the complete set. Listening to this made me try to explore the concept of “greatness” in music composition, and more importantly explore our obsession with that issue. There is an implication in many conversations, and in the writing of some critics, that if a work is not deemed “great” it doesn’t merit our time or attention.

Greatness is, however, a vague, undefinable concept. Sports commentators debate who belongs in the Hall of Fame, and those who just missed election are said to be in the Hall of the Very Good. If there were such a thing in music, the songs of Peter Cornelius would be comfortably placed there, in that Hall of the Very Good. The imagination, invention, distinctive melodic profile, and complexity of the finest songs of Schubert, Brahms, Strauss, Schumann, and Wolf may elude Cornelius—but not by much. There is so much to admire and enjoy in this collection, particularly in these excellent performances, that one does not concentrate on what is not here, but rather accepts with pleasure what is.

Cornelius was also a poet, and wrote most of his own texts. Only the Marienlieder (to texts by Petrarch) and Ave Maria are not his own poems. Cornelius was a devout (and liberal) Catholic, and he wrote much church music, including a wonderful Requiem. The cycle of nine songs Vater unser (when he wrote to Liszt about this cycle he referred to it as “my Pater noster ”) is a quite remarkable cycle, with an arched shape that builds to a climax in the sixth song, and then recedes in the final three. Equally powerful is Corenlius’s setting of the three Petrarch verses from Canzone XXIX , written on the death of Petrarch’s muse Laura. The mixture of, as well as tension between, the religious and the erotic in the texts is reflected imaginatively and persuasively in the music, which strikes me as both original and memorable.

Anyone interested in German Lieder from the 19th century should enjoy this disc. Soprano Landshamer’s voice is a bit thin and monochromatic, but not excessively so. The three male singers are very good indeed, and very expressive. Pianist Veit does not seem to be doing the kind of reading run-through that one often encounters in out-of-the-way repertoire, but rather really reflects the music and the meaning of the texts. Very natural sound rounds out this lovely recording.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

Weihnachtslieder (6), Op. 8 by Peter Cornelius
Performer:  Hans Christoph Begemann (Bass), Christina Landshamer (Soprano), Markus Schäfer (Tenor),
Mathias Hausmann (Bass-baritone), Matthias Veit (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1856/1870; Weimar, Germany 
Vater unser (9), Op. 2 by Peter Cornelius
Performer:  Markus Schäfer (Tenor), Matthias Veit (Piano)
Written: 1854-1855 
Marienlieder "Vergine" by Peter Cornelius
Performer:  Matthias Veit (Piano), Markus Schäfer (Tenor), Hans Christoph Begemann (Bass)
Ave Maria by Peter Cornelius
Performer:  Markus Schäfer (Tenor), Matthias Veit (Piano)

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