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Brigitte Fassbaender & Herman Prey (Lieder and Ballads)

Johannes Brahms 18 lieder

Liebestreu, op.3 Nr. 1
Meine Lieder, op. 106 Nr. 4
An eine Aolsharfe, op.19 Nr.5
Auf dem Kirchhofe, op.l05 Nr.4
Uber die Heide, op.86 Nr.4
Im Garten, op.70 Nr.l
Verzagen, op.72 Nr.4
Es hing der Reif, op.l06 Nr.3
Nachklang, op.59 Nr.4
0 kuihler Wald, op.72 Nr.3
Wehe, so willst du mich wieder, op.32 Nr.5
Gestillte Sehnsucht, op.91 Nr.l *
Geistliches Wiegenlied, op.91 Nr. 2 *
Madchenlied, op.l07 Nr.5
Die Mainacht, op.43 Nr.2
Standchen, op.1O6 Nr.l
In stiller Nacht (aus: 49 Deutsche Volkslieder)
Von ewiger Liebe, op.43 Nr.l

Brigitte Fassbaender (mezzo-soprano)Irwin Gage (piano) Thomas Riebl (viola)*,
Arts Music, 47614
[1982/2004; 51 mins]

This treasurable 1982 Brahms recording has good balance between piano and singer with a natural sound at home, conveying the warmth and intensity of both artists giving their all. Fassbaender, a great lieder singer, has a a voice as distinctive as Ferrier's, but because she enjoyed a full and long professional life in opera and lieder, she may never quite get the media exposure and enduring popular attention that our British contralto enjoys posthumously.

The choice is a mixture of the familiar and the rarer, and Irwin Gage does more than support her; a real dialogue of equals with subtle musicianship in evidence in every phrase. Brahms' two viola songs make for a welcome interlude, with Thomas Riebl contributing to the whole ensemble ideally.

Therre are no English translations, but these are readily available; many of them in the Fischer-Dieskau book, and most of them on Emily Ezust's website, making it a pleasure to listen and follow the words at the computer (or you can easily print them out).

Lieder by Berg, Mahler & Ogermann
Berg Vier Lieder op.2:
Schlafend tragt man mich in mein Heimatland / Nun ich der Riesen Starksten uberwand / Warm die Lufte es spriesst Gras auf sonnigen Wiesen
Claus Ogermann: Tagore-Lieder (1975)
Es war gerade an dem Tag / Der Tag ist schon dahin / Zeit ist endlos Herr / Das ist nun so/ Wolken / Er kommt / Letztes Lied


Rheinlegendchen/Lob des hohen Verstands/Des Antonius von Padua/Fischpredigt/Verlorne Muh'/Das irdische Leben/Wo die schonen Trompeten blasen

Brigitte Fassbaender & John Wustman
ARTS Music 43028-2

For more unusual fare, hear Brigitte Fassbaender with John Wustmann in fairly early Berg, Mahler and Claus Ogermann (b 1930), who also arranaged songs for Sinatra and Steisand. I find Ogermann's art songs rather dry, but he was championed by Glenn Gould and Gidon Kremer and seven of them make the most substantial central section of this recital, and remind us how wide ranging was Brigitte Fassbaender's repertoire. Berg's Op 2 dates from 1910 when he was studying with Schoenberg. I don't find Wustmann as winning in the piano accompaniments of Mahler (all better known with orchestra) as is Irwin Gage for Brahms, and the recording ambience sounds too clinical on my record player, so only a guarded recommendation for this disc if you want to explore Ogermann.

Loewe ballads Hermann Prey with Karl Engel
ARTS 43021-2

A disc of Loewe ballads, and some songs, is fatally compromised for non-German speakers by the absence of translations for these "storysongs", their texts running to as many as thirteen verses. Performed still in Germany, in UK they have only occasional novelty exposure, and on this hearing the music tends between simple and simplistic and are worth hearing once, but not for collectors. Herman Prey brought some of them when he used to come to London regularly. His voice sounds a little tired here and it is a CD which I have been glad to sample, but cannot recommend for purchase.

These CDs tend to have notes which are microscopic, so you'll need good light and possibly a magnifying glass, as I do, but at least they're printed in hard black ink.

© Peter Grahame Woolf