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Wolf: Prometheus, Orchestral Lieder / Nagano, Banse, Henschel

Wolf / Banse / Henschel
Release Date: 07/08/2014 
Label:  Harmonia Mundi   Catalog #: 501837  
Composer:  Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich HenschelJuliane Banse
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester BerlinBerlin Radio Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Given the participants, in particular Kent “he can do no wrong” Nagano, one will have high expectations for this offering—and they’re largely met. You’ll want it, and not only because Wolf’s orchestral versions of his lieder are discographic rarities. All 24 of them, less a second orchestration of Mignon (“Kennst du das Land”), are included here. But there are caveats, the most annoying being the conductor’s humming or moaning lending another voice to the lower instrumental register—not constant, but too often. Detailed, immediate sound presents the overloaded, brassy splendors of Wolf’s orchestral writing as the center of attention, nearly engulfing the singers—which is acceptable—and occasionally enveloping them, which isn’t. Perhaps to Read more avoid preciosity, Nagano prefers a spanking pace throughout—welcome in the Harfenspieler songs but shortchanging, for instance, In der Frühe, where the dawn and its hopeful morning bells emerge from night like a flicked light switch. The rushed rapture of Neue Liebe jazzes Wolf’s already too facile triumph. Der Feuerreiter is a frantic scramble—over almost before it begins. Granted, Wolf’s orchestral grandiosity is to blame for the cataclysmic postludial tumult of Er ist’s—noisy, vulgar, exciting, and startlingly enjoyable—which Nagano does nothing to ameliorate or clarify.

Mehr Luft! Happy happenstance or startling distraction, you may be taken aback by how closely Dietrich Henschel resembles Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau—the uncannily similar glowing light baritone thinning brightly in the same midrange, though Henschel’s metallic top escapes the pushed, pinched strain the aging Fischer-Dieskau evinced in the heroics of Prometheus (in a 1991 collection of 17 of Wolf’s orchestral songs, some arranged by other hands—Orfeo C 219 911 A, Fanfare 15:6). Here, again, Nagano seizes one, at 5:30, by the hair, where Stefan Soltesz and the Munich Radio Orchestra allow Fischer-Dieskau a dilatory 8:11 to expose his loss of vocal luster, while giving due expression to Goethe’s verse, which Nagano steamrolls. Indeed, Nagano’s hustle so compresses this dramatic scene that even the snarling trills of the opening lose their effect. That aside, Henschel’s participation is still the next best thing to having the album of Wolf’s orchestral Lieder that the young Fischer-Dieskau never made.

Though one feels that she has more to say, Juliane Banse, with her honeyed, mezzo-like seductiveness edged in aureate brilliance, cuts through the hustle to awaken and animate unforgettably Wolf’s emotional carousel, from the oracular Gesang Weylas and the valedictory Anakreons Grab to the flirtatious In dem Schatten meiner Locken (taken straight, that is, without Schwarzkopfian cuteness) and an ecstatic, spellbinding Kennst du das Land. Coming so soon after her album of Koechlin’s orchestral mélodies with Heinz Holliger and the Southwest German RSO/Stuttgart (Hänssler CD 93.159, Fanfare 29:4), this lopsidedly rich offering confirms Banse as a star of the first magnitude entering her ascendant—may we soon have DVDs of her amazingly varied operatic adventures! A curiosity worth mentioning, Banse and Henschel appeared together in two exemplary albums of Jecklin Disco’s Schoeck Lieder intégral just as their careers were taking off—Volume 5 (JD 675, coincidentally including a number of Goethe settings) and Volume 7 (JD 6777, Fanfare 17: 1).

Unless I’ve missed something, in the only other considerable collection of Wolf’s orchestral Lieder, one may appreciate David Shallon’s more relaxed pace, with the RSO Berlin, for tremulous Mitsuko Shirai in a 1992 collection of 16 of these, including both versions of Kennst du das Land (Capriccio 10 335), but there is, sad to say, little comparison vocally or expressively. The full speed ahead approach is a common compensation of conductors lacking interpretive insight, and one is taken aback to find someone of Nagano’s stature employing it glibly throughout—there are a number of missed opportunities and some casualties along the way. But there is also much to admire and, as noted, you’ll want this. The poems, with translations by Richard Stokes, are prefaced with a richly informed essay by Habakuk Traber. If you care for Wolf—or magnificent singing—you cannot but find this indispensable.

-- Adrian Corleonis, Fanfare [7/2006]
Reviewing original release of this recording, HMU 901837
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Works on This Recording

1.
Goethe Lieder: no 49, Prometheus by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
2.
Mörike Lieder: no 39, Denk es, o Seele! by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
3.
Mörike Lieder: no 28, Gebet by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
4.
Mörike Lieder: no 23, Auf ein altes Bild by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
5.
Mörike Lieder: no 25, Schlafendes Jesuskind by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
6.
Mörike Lieder: no 26, Karwoche by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
7.
Mörike Lieder: no 24, In der Frühe by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
8.
Mörike Lieder: no 44, Der Feuerreiter by Hugo Wolf
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Chorus,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
9.
Mörike Lieder: no 30, Neue Liebe by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
10.
Mörike Lieder: no 31, Wo find'ich Trost? by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
11.
Mörike Lieder: no 22, Seufzer by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
12.
Mörike Lieder: no 46, Gesang Weylas by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
13.
Mörike Lieder: no 29, An den Schlaf by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
14.
Mörike Lieder: no 6, Er ist's by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Spanisches Liederbuch: no 16, Wenn du zu den Blumen gehst by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Vienna, Austria 
16.
Spanisches Liederbuch: no 12, In dem Schatten meiner Locken by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Vienna, Austria 
17.
Spanisches Liederbuch: no 17, Wer sein holdes Lieb verloren by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Vienna, Austria 
18.
Spanisches Liederbuch: no 21, Herz, versage nicht geschwind by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Vienna, Austria 
19.
Goethe Lieder: no 9, Mignon "Kennst du das Land" by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
20.
Goethe Lieder: no 11, Der Rattenfänger by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 
21.
Goethe Lieder: no 1, Harfenspieler I "Wer sich der Einsamkeit ergibt" by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
22.
Goethe Lieder: no 2, Harfenspieler II "An die Türen will ich schleichen" by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
23.
Goethe Lieder: no 3, Harfenspieler III "Wer nie sein Brot mit Tränen ass" by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Dietrich Henschel (Baritone)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
24.
Goethe Lieder: no 29, Anakreons Grab by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Juliane Banse (Soprano)
Conductor:  Kent Nagano
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; Vienna, Austria 

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