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COMPOSERS: Diepenbrock
LABELS: NM Classics
WORKS: Songs, Vol. 1: Der Fischer; Mignon; Hymn to the Night
PERFORMER: Roberta Alexander (soprano), Jard van Nes (mezzo-soprano), Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Robert Holl (bass-baritone), Rudolf Jansen (piano)
The intensely musical Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921), thwarted by his parents, studied classics at Amsterdam University and taught himself to compose, studying the early Netherlands polyphonists, Wagner and Debussy. His songs have both the exuberant freshness and the sometimes awkward volubility of the auto-didact.


The enterprising NM Classics has assembled a formidable cast to champion him, with Rudolf Jansen as a sympathetic pianist. From Christoph Prégardien we hear the earliest ballads, including a wonderfully imaginative ‘Der Fischer’ (cf Schubert); from Jard van Nes the Wagnerian and long-winded ‘Mignon’. Roberta Alexander is responsible for Diepenbrock’s fine Novalis ‘Hymn to the Night’; and Robert Holl is at his most laconic in the ‘Celebrität’, a parody in Meistersinger style, containing any number of esoteric references to Nietzsche and Richard Strauss. Spot them if you dare! Hilary Finch