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Recordings

Erwartung
25 Aug 2006

Erwartung — Lieder by Schoenberg, Wagner, Strauss et al.

Internationally acclaimed soprano, Solveig Kringelborn, now has recorded a delightful selection of late nineteenth-century German Lieder on the NMA label.

Erwartung

Solveig Kringelborn (Soprano), Malcolm Martineau (Piano)

Norway Music Aurora NIMA 5 [SACD]

$16.99  Click to buy

The carefully planned selection includes Vier Lieder, op. 2 by Schoenberg, three selections from Strauss’ op. 39, Wagner’s Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck, Four Mignon-Lieder by Wolf, and three selections from Max Reger’s Schlicte Weisen, op. 76.

Unfortunately, the album is entitled Erwartung, with Schoenberg’s name credited first on the cover. This may lead some buyers to believe the selections will be Schoenberg’s dramatic psycho-thriller or a monodrama, Erwartung, op. 17. However, the album takes it title from the first song of his Vier Lieder, also entitled “Erwartung,” and a very different piece indeed. “Erwartung,” like the three other songs in the set, is richly chromatic and winds through several distantly related key areas over its brief course. Truly, it is a far cry from the expressively athematic Erwartung, composed ten years later.

Kringelborn has selected songs that are sometimes overlooked by recording artist, yet she has done a remarkable job interpreting them, crafting an exciting recital. Furthermore, the collaboration between Kringelborn and her accompanist, Malcolm Martineau, is one of sensitivity and true collaboration.

Inspire by Dehmel’s poetry, the Vier Lieder are very compact, both in their succinct settings and in the smaller ensemble required for lieder. Two of the three selections from Strauss oeuvre are also inspired by Dehmel’s poetry; the third is a poem of Otto Julius Bierbaum. Apparently the poet criticized Strauss’ setting as being too sentimental, but the poetry almost seems to demand it, especially “Befreit,” a tender poem from the perspective of a dying man speaking to his beloved wife.

Wagner’s Fünf Gedichte von Mathilde Wesendonck are some of his most frequently performed lieder, specifically the third and fifth selections, which are well known as studies for Tristan und Isolde.

The climax of the album, however, is Wolf’s Vier Mignon-Lieder. Based on Goethe’s tale of Mignon, the daughter of an incestuous relationship between brother and sister, the poems are sung from the perspective of the thirteen-year-old Mignon who is a tortured soul. Indeed this is a situation most beautifully portrayed by Wolf’s emotional setting.

Closing with the three Reger songs makes excellent sense, considering Reger’s vocal writing was deeply influenced by Strauss, Wolf, and Wagner. The three songs presented here come from his sixth and final book of songs published as Schlichte Weisen between 1903 and 1912.

The album goes above and beyond expectations. The published material includes informative liner notes by Richard Stokes in English, German, French and Norwegian, song text in German and English, and photos of Schoenberg, Strauss, Wagner, Wolf and Reger. Special touches include a thoughtful note from Solveig Kringelborn, as well as a reproduction of an oil painting by Norwegian artist Karina Paulen titled "Erwartung," which was commissioned especially for this album. Paulen listened many times to the recording sessions and painted with the sound of the performance in her memory.

Visually and aurally this album is quite stimulating, and a lovely addition to any collection, whether one collects voices, late Romantic music, German Lieder, or excellent music in general.

Megan Jenkins
The Graduate Center- CUNY

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