Wolf: The Complete Songs, Vol. 7
This is the latest in the series devoted to every last song Hugo Wolf ever wrote, something that I think has never been attempted before. Wolf was always attracted to Spain and Spanish culture, and this disc consists of all the secular songs of his so-called Spanish Songbook. The sacred Spanish songs are few, but they are very fine and will presumably be in the next volume. The 34 songs here are very short, and only one of them is over three minutes long: the last, in which a girl tells her boyfriend to leave before he gets caught. Almost all of the songs are devoted to aspects of love – burgeoning, reciprocated, rejected, despised, mocked, sometimes purely lustful, occasionally something more. To listen straight through is tempting but probably unwise, though Mark Stone, who writes the helpful notes, has ensured as much variety as possible by giving them to four singers.
All of these singers are adequate, none of them is a big name. So it depends on whether you like Wolf sung by the many great Lieder singers, from the 1930s to now, who have recorded him, or whether you like decent and well-accompanied performances without that distinctive quality which leaves a particular performance (or recording) indelibly in your mind. I admit to preferring the former, but this is a disc few would regret buying.