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Dallapiccola, Hartmann, Schweinitz: Song Cycles / Erdmann

Release Date: 05/29/2007 
Label:  Orfeo   Catalog #: 558061   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Luigi DallapiccolaKarl Amadeus HartmannWolfgang von Schweinitz
Performer:  Axel BauniMojca ErdmannDietrich HenschelClaudia Barainsky,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHWEINITZ Papiersterne. 1 DALLAPICCOLA 4 liriche di Antonio Machado. 2 Rencesvals. 3 HARTMANN Lamento 4 Doris Soffel (mez); 1 Mojca Erdmann (sop); 2 Dietrich Henschel (bar); Read more class="SUPER12">3 Claudio Barainsky (sop); 4 Aribert Reimann (pn); 1 Axel Bauni (pn) 2, 3, 4 ORFEO 558 061 (70:17 Text, no Translations 2,3,4 )

This is a very fine disc, in Orfeo’s “Contemporary Lieder” series, that could and should have been better. Orfeo has given us English translations of Wolfgang von Schweinitz’s cycle of 15 songs titled Papiersterne . But Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s deeply moving cantata for soprano and piano, Lamento , is given only in German. And Luigi Dallapiccola’s two cycles are given in their original languages (Spanish and Old French) and translated into German, but not English.

This is doubly frustrating because this isn’t music that you listen to for the pretty tunes. This is compelling, dramatic, complex music that is all about expressing text and amplifying it through music. If you can’t follow a text, this is music that might well mean nothing or very little to you. At least the original languages for the Dallapiccola and Hartmann are printed, and there are German translations for the Dallapiccola, so if you have some linguistic knowledge you may be able to get by. But it is a very sad mistake for a release that is so stunning in every other way.

First, there is the music itself. The works of Dallapiccola and Hartmann may well be true masterpieces—a word I hate because it cannot really be defined. But if music that moves the listener deeply, and that keeps revealing more and more of itself on rehearing, is what qualifies, then these cycles do. Dallapiccola’s vocal writing is imaginative and natural, while never being old-fashioned. His music in many ways is a bridge between different trends from the middle of the 20th century—neo-Classicism, Expressionism, post-Romanticism, atonalism, and serialism. Dallapiccola’s sense of color, even when writing for voice and piano, was so keen as to keep him away from the monochromatic austerity of some of his contemporaries. In particular, Rencesvals , based on the ancient French Chanson de Roland , seems music that will long stay in the memory, especially when sung as passionately and musically as it is here by Dietrich Henschel.

But then there is Hartmann’s heartbreaking cantata—a gripping work of 20 minutes that one should really listen to on its own, out of context of the rest of the music here. Nothing Hartmann wrote was unaffected by his experience with the second world war, where he cut himself off from German society in his own quiet protest, and this is no exception. Composed in 1955, it shares with many of his later works origins in earlier music—in this case a six-movement cantata, Friede Anno 48 for soprano, chorus, and piano from the 1930s. Like Dallapiccola, Hartmann was a bridge between styles, but his music seems more directly emotional, less intellectualized.

Schweinitz is of a much younger generation (he was born in 1953; Dallapiccola’s dates are 1904–1975, Hartmann’s 1905–1963). I don’t hear in his music the distinctive and strong musical personalities evident in the other two, and I cannot be certain that this cycle of 15 songs will stand up to repeated hearing as well as I believe the Dallapiccola and Hartmann works will. But that shouldn’t deter you from this disc; these are certainly worthy songs, and I have not tired of them in three hearings. As you might expect, the style is a bit more modernistic than the other two composers, and one hears the influence of one of his mentors, Ligeti.

There can be no denying the quality of these performances. Every singer seems completely inside the music—no one is giving a note-reading here. The piano-playing of both Bauni and Reimann (the latter is a fine composer in his own right) is colorful and alive to nuance. Orfeo’s recorded sound could not be more natural—one isn’t even aware of the medium. The essay seems a bit dense, perhaps partly a matter of translation, but I think also in its original writing, and as I indicated above, the lack of English translations for the Hartmann and Dallapiccola is a serious problem. Nonetheless, there is much of real value here.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

Liriche (4) di Antonio Machado by Luigi Dallapiccola
Performer:  Axel Bauni (Piano), Mojca Erdmann (), Dietrich Henschel ()
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948/1964; Italy 
Date of Recording: 06/14/2005 
Venue:  Kleiner Sendsaal, Rundfunk Berlin-Brande 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Rencesvals, for voice & piano by Luigi Dallapiccola
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (), Mojca Erdmann ()
Period: Modern 
Written: 1946 
Date of Recording: 03/29/2005 
Venue:  Kleiner Sendsaal, Rundfunk Berlin-Brande 
Length: 10 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Lamento, for voice & piano by Karl Amadeus Hartmann
Performer:  Claudia Barainsky ()
Period: Modern 
Written: 1955 
Venue:  Kleiner Sendsaal, Rundfunk Berlin-Brande 
Length: 21 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Papiersterne, 15 songs for voice & piano, Op. 20 by Wolfgang von Schweinitz
Performer:  Doris Soffel (), Aribert Reimann (Piano)
Written: 1981 
Date of Recording: 10/08/1982 
Venue:  Studio 5, Südwestfunk Baden-Baden 
Length: 28 Minutes 58 Secs. 

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