Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wolf - Lieder - Bostridge, Pappano



This disc should dispel the popular illusion that Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) is a cerebral, "difficult" composer. Perhaps, in melding words and music, he pays more attention to prosody than most of his predecessors, but his melodies can be as simple and lyrical as Schubert's, as ardently romantic as Schumann's, and his harmonies are innovative and luxurious. Choosing his texts with fastidious care, often drawing on a single poet for an entire songbook, he creates "tone-paintings of the soul," evoking love's joys and sorrows, devout supplication, enjoyment of nature, and ironic, even ribald humor. The performances on this disc, which features poems by Eichendorff, Mörike, and Goethe, give vibrant life to the drama, tragedy, serenity, and Hugo Wolf lightheartedness of words and music. Ian Bostridge, a famously individualistic interpreter at home in many styles and languages, brings to Wolf an approach that is both intellectually probing and emotionally fearless. He uses his bright, variable voice and idiosyncratic vocalism, with its delayed vibrato and swells on long notes, for utmost contrast of dynamics, inflection, character, and expression, frequently sending shivers down the spine. Pappano, better known as a conductor, is a superb pianist and partner; his introductions and postludes are models of poise and balance, and he handles his demanding, often virtuosic parts with just the right blend of leadership and support. The program contains 24 songs, some well-known, some unfamiliar, all so beautiful that listeners will have to select their own favorites. This recording should help secure Hugo Wolf's rightful place among the great German songwriters. -- Edith Eisler


flac, scans

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