Wednesday 7th January 2015

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 1749 – 1832

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D720  Suleika

D766  Am Flusse

D215  Jägers Abendlied

D257  Heidenröslein

D560  Der Goldschmiedsgesell

D247  Die Spinnerin

D719  Geheimes

D119  Nachtgesang

D138  Rastlose Liebe

D160  Am Flusse

D224  Wandrers Nachtlied I

D768  Wandrers Nachtlied II

D352  Licht und liebe (duet)

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Johannes Brahms

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Op. 84 No.4  Vergebliches Ständchen (duet) (1″43)

Op. 96 No.2  Wir Wandelten (2″50)

Op. 43 No.1  Von ewiger Liebe (4″40)

WoO. Posth 37 No.1  Schwesterlein (duet from folk songs) (3″26)

Op.105 No.1  Wie Melodien zieht es mir (2″30)

Op. 63 No.5  Meine liebe ist Grun (1″26)

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Robert Schumann

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Op.78 No.1  Tanzlied (duet) (2″20)

Op. 25 No.3  Der Nussbaum (2″50)

Op. 101 No.4  Mein Schöner Stern (2″40)

Op. 25 No.9  Lied der Suleika (2″35)

Op 74 No.4  In der Nacht anon (duet) ( 6″)

Op. 30 No.3  Der Hidalgo (3″)

Op.78 No.2  Er und sie (duet) (1.30)

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A Demanding Song Recital at the Ilkley Concert Club

The solo lieder recital is a challenging genre to bring off successfully. Many years ago the accompanist Graham Johnson created the Songmakers’ Almanac, a format where a group of singers could share a programme and that worked well. Our young artists followed their example taking turns to perform solos and occasionally singing in duet.

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Under the title ‘A Celebration of Love’ they devised a programme solely of German songs which in the first half featured Schubert settings of poems by Goethe, a tough assignment for any artist. Schubert’s style has many facets but linking him to settings of just one poet limits the expressive range. A brave thing to do but not an entirely wise one as the second half of their programme demonstrated. This was altogether more successful with settings by Schumann and Brahms of a number of poets giving more opportunity for varied interpretations.

Excellent translations of the poems were provided in the programme booklet, less necessary in the lighter songs where both artists acted out the story very effectively, particularly in their duet version of Brahms’ Vergebliches Ständchen (serenade in vain); but essential in the more serious songs. Following the texts highlighted a lack of verbal clarity. The classical singing style is very concerned with ‘line’, with maintaining an even flow of beautiful sound, but it can lead to consonants being thrown away. This lack was more evident in Malin’s contribution which sometimes forfeited character as a result.

Both singers spoke engagingly to the audience about their programme. Soprano Malin began the concert with Schubert’s Suleika which showed her beauty of tone, pitch perfect and well controlled vibrato. Joshua’s lovely tenor voice was memorable in Brahms’ Wir Wandelten They were accompanied by Simon Lepper who was superb throughout, always attentive to the needs of his partners whilst at the same time making his contribution tell effectively. An evening that got better as it went on, and was rewarded with warm final applause that brought a welcome encore.

Geoffrey Kinder

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Recommended Recordings


It has proved impossible to recommend CDs which cover all the songs featured tonight without recourse to the various large boxes of “complete” items, and this particularly applies to the duets. In the circumstances, I am suggesting discs which include at least a few of the songs.

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Schubert, Goethe Settings

A very fine mid-price CD from DGG 457 747-2 has Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) and Jorg Demus (piano) performing a selection of Goethe Lieder. A budget alternative, superbly sung by Janet Baker, with Gerald Moore and Geoffrey Parsons, has a 2 disc selection of Schubert Songs, including several from Goethe poems. This is on the Warner label (ex EMI) 5862512. Another budget disc, one of three featuring Goethe Schubert settings , has Johannes Kalpers (tenor) with Burkhard Kehring (piano) on Naxos 8.554667.


A budget 2 CD set – DGG E4594692, features Jessye Norman (soprano) with Daniel Barenboim (piano), and includes some of the songs featured tonight. This is a beautifully performed recital, well recorded.


As I mentioned earlier, recordings of the duets featured in the programme are hard to find. Fortunately, in the case of the Schumann, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone) and his wife Julia Varady (soprano), accompanied by Cord Garben, perform three of tonight’s duets. The German radio recording is very good, and other songs by Schumann, Beethoven and Mahler complete the disc, which is full price on Audite 95.636.

Raymond Waud.

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