Friday, May 31, 2013

Hugo Wolf – Mörike-Lieder – Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau & Svjatoslav Richter

   Romantic period delivered not as many new musical forms as preceded eras of Classicism or Baroque, the characteristic of 19th century was rather to make new use of many older constructive ideas than to create them from the beginning. Musical form was less important than emotional content and musical psychology took primate over intellectual constructions. Many historic forms were still in use, but with new esthetical attitude and in more flexible meaning, from sonata form, through symphony, to concerto and opera. Some more ideas have been developed from previous forms. Most independent and new forms were symphonic poem and romantic song. While first form has limited scope only, song became the hallmarks of the time. Since Schubert, Chopin, Schuman, through Wagner, Brahms and Tchaikovsky to Mahler and Strauss, song remained primary language of romantic music.
   Romantic song was not only a popular way of organizing musical material in composition. Second element of the song was lyrical content which in fact usually took over the overriding role in construction. Such idea was a foundation of solo songs by Hugo Wolf who was composing his songs in predominantly through-composed form. He was strongly affected by Richard Wagner’s solutions, in many fragments he used lots of chromaticisms and nonperiodic phraseology. Hugo Wolf was one of most talented lieder composers of romantic era, he composed 250 songs in 10 years period from 1888 to 1897. He didn’t wrote typical cycles of songs, but he focused on one composer or one set of poetry at a time, so he composed songs to Eduard Mörike (Mörike-Lieder) in 1888, Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff (Eichendorff-Lieder) in 1889, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Goethe-Lieder) in 1890 and Michelangelo Buonarrotti (Michelangelo Lieder) in 1897. He was also author of Spanisches Liederbuch (1891) and Italienisches Liederbuch (1892, 1896).

Hugo Wolf: Mörike-Lieder – D. Fisher-Dieskau & S. Richter (1973)

   Probably most praised phonographic release of Wolf’s songs is life recording of great tenor and congenial interpreter of romantic song Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau and Svjatoslav Richter – pianist of unlimited possibilities, one of those few presenting comprehensive profile of technical, intellectual and emotional qualities in piano art. Their Innsbruck recital in October 1973 was great success although it wasn’t only one success of this duo, they were acting together a lot and publishing recordings with Schubert and Brahms recitals. The record published two years after Innsbruck recital by Deutsche Grammophon (2530 584) is one of greatest positions in Wolf’s discography. It captures the atmosphere of live performance and renders its dramatic tension.
   This selection comprises 18 most characteristic songs out of 53 songs contained in 4 volumes of complete collection of Mörike-Lieder cycle. Preserving the original idea of Hugo Wolf, artists had been trying to construct recital basing on the same opening and closing songs and common highlights. Perfect example is Der Feuerreiter, the song that requires virtuoso technique and dramatic skills of both musicians. This is also the one clearly showing the New German School impact on artistic song and its consequences in Wolf’s style. About 30 years after Liszt and Wagner’s songs, Slovenian composer establishing new relations between words and music made next step towards expression and modernism. The importance of Hugo Wolf’s songs is undeniable. Fortunately there are singers performing and recording these works, Wolf is present in concert and in radio programs. Recorded recital belongs to events of great artistic importance – for its unique qualities and for giving Hugo Wolf the place in our memory it deserves four stars.

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