WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Chopin Edition Vol 7 - Songs / Konrad Jarnot, Eugene Mursky

Chopin / Mursky / Jarnot
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 4068   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Konrad JarnotEvgene Mursky
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Those who still look down on Chopin’s songs should give this a listen. I’m sure they will be converted – just as I was.


CHOPIN Songs (19) Konrad Jarnot (bar); Eugène Morsky (pn) HÄNSSLER 4068 (53:34)

There are so many collections of Chopin’s songs available nowadays, including several in the original language, that one might wonder what value a Read more collection sung in German might have, but Hänssler has turned out quite the iridescent gem here. Konrad Jarnot, a baritone formerly unknown to me, is a singer and interpreter of the first rank. His voice is warm and beautiful, sort of like a cross between Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Gerhard Hüsch, and that is quite a combination indeed.

Jarnot caresses a lyric line as if it were a lover. He is a born Lieder singer or, at least, he sounds as if he were born to sing it. The majority of these song texts, as we know, are not particularly deep, but Jarnot has a poet’s soul, which leads him to find meaning in every word. One might go into rapturous detail over each song on this album, but to what purpose? Some records are just so good that saying too much is overkill and ruins the listening experience. This is one of them. My only caveat is that there are no lyrics printed in the booklet, neither in Polish nor German, nor is there a Web site listed on which to find them. Emily Ezust to the rescue! Her Lied, Art Song, and Choral Texts Page contains lyrics to all the Chopin songs, including translations in German and English (recmusic.org/lieder/c/chopin.html).

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley

Over the last couple of years I have reviewed a number of mixed song recital discs with some Chopin songs included. It was only a matter of time before a company would issue a disc of the complete Op. 74 songs. They were published posthumously by the composer’s friend Julius Fontana. Never intended to be published as a group – maybe not at all – they were composed during a period of eighteen years. They date between 1829, when Chopin was still a teenager, and 1847, two years before his death, ‘when the separation between him and George Sand was in the offing’. In other words they cover the greater part of his creative life. Chopin’s aim with the songs was never to challenge great predecessors and contemporaries like Schubert, Mendelssohn and Schumann, but rather to offer entertainment for the salons of Paris where exile-Poles met and could be nostalgic. The poems were written by members of the circle around Adam Mickiewicz, living in Paris and good friends with Chopin.
The songs are melodious and charming and in many of them one hears typically Chopinesque turns of phrase, not least in the piano part. On the present disc they are sung in German translations, which possibly robs them of some of the authenticity, but this is the only objection I have – and it’s a marginal one. The advantage is that it brings them closer to the Central European tradition. Most, if not all, translations are by Max Kalbeck, a towering figure during the later part of the 19 th century, as writer, translator and critic.
The songs are sung here by the superb Konrad Jarnot, whose Ravel/Duparc disc some years ago is a great favourite. He is if possible even better here with singing that is nuanced, flexible and extremely sensitive. Moreover the beauty of the voice, especially in the soft and intimate songs, is truly beguiling. The first two songs had me sitting on the edge of my seat and my first reaction was that the songs sounded new. His artistry made them seem better than they actually are. But the more powerful songs are also excellent. Try the drinking song Hulanka (tr. 4). This is down-to-earth and frothy singing with irresistible lilt, gloriously backed up by the admirable Eugène Mursky’s bouncy playing. And still everything is done with elegance and nuance. The humorous and lively Mein Geliebte (tr. 8) is sung with a glint in the eye, almost visible through the loudspeakers. Throughout he sings with the same feeling for verbal nuance that was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s hallmark. Power, beauty, elegance are keywords for his readings. Maybe the real highlight here is Melancholie (tr. 13) – wonderful singing of a wonderful song.
There are booklet notes in German and English but no sung texts, which is regrettable. Jarnot’s enunciation can’t be faulted but those who are less than fluent in German will need some textual support.
Lieder singing of this calibre can’t be taken for granted these days, even though we have many excellent singers around. Those who still look down on Chopin’s songs – and I have to admit that hitherto I haven’t held them in too high esteem – should give this disc a listen. I’m sure that they will be converted – just as I was.
Göran Forsling, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

Polish Songs (17), Op. 74 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Konrad Jarnot (Baritone), Evgene Mursky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1847 
Czary, B 51 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Konrad Jarnot (Baritone), Evgene Mursky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Poland 
Dumka, B 147 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Konrad Jarnot (Baritone), Evgene Mursky (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840; Paris, France 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title