Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hermann Prey – Auf Flügeln des Gesanges

   Hermann Prey was one of greatest German singers of 20th century. His lyric baritone was perfect for performing artistic song which was main part of Prey’s rich repertoire. He was also known for his opera appearances, especially for the roles requiring acting talents and virtuoso vocal technique like the unforgettable one of Figaro in TV movie of Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia made by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle in 1972. Since he was known as gifted singer with beautiful voice, he was appearing as well in oratorio as in more popular repertoire. But he was remembered mainly for his Lider recitals. So the hallmark of his discography are perfect renditions of songs and song cycles.
   Collection of Herman Prey’s song recordings were published by Philips in early 70’s. The series Lied Edition Prey comprises 27 discs in four boxes from Minnesang to contemporary music, from Walter von Vogelweide and Oswald von Wolkenstein to songs composed by Giselher Klebe and Friedrich Gulda. In the series there were also published two albums with highlights Zum Lob des deutschen Liedes and Auf Flügeln des Gesanges with songs of German romanticism.

Hermann Prey – Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (1974)

   Under the title inspired with Heinrich Heine’s poem and Felix Mendelssohn’s song, Philips published album of romantic songs recorded by Hermann Prey for this label. Choice comprises four songs by Franz Schubert with Der Pilgrim to the poem by Friedrich von Schiller, three songs by Robert Schumann to poems by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Joseph von Eichendorf and Hans Christian Andersen – brave performance of Der Spielmann. Second side is opening with title song Auf Flügeln des Gesanges by Heinrich Heine and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, then come Im Rhein by Heinrich Heine and Franz Liszt, Lied des Mephistopheles from Goethe’s Faust composed by Richard Wagner, In der Ferne written by Peter Cornelius to his own words, and recital close two songs by Johannes Brahms and three songs by Hugo Wolf.
   Piano accompaniments were played by Karl Engel (Schubert), Leonard Hokanson (Schumann, Wolf) and Gerald Moore (Mendelssohn, Liszt, Wagner, Cornelius, Brahms, Wolf). Hremann Prey’s renditions are natural and unforced, subordinated to musical and artistic ideas of each song. He interprets music and words trying to catch them as the entity of the message. In fact romantic artistic song is called with German term Lied, and this is somehow honoring this phenomenon. Based on great poetry of 18th and 19th centuries and perfect music elaborations of romantic composers, these songs are complete artistic expression and in Hermann Prey interpretations they shine as jewel in the crown of romantic output. Four and half jewels in five jewel scale.

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