Haydn: Lieder

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Berlin Classics
WORKS: Lieder
PERFORMER: Peter Schreier (tenor)Jörg Demus (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0093382 BC ADD
Haydn’s songs inhabit a world of single, unambivalent emotions: tenderness, pathos, flirtatious merriment purl out of a musical landscape as gentle in its contours as the Burgenland borders of Austro-Hungary where the composer lived and worked. This selection of folksy strophic songs – each verse set to the same tune – were intended for domestic amateur performance. And, although their settings of generally minor and anonymous poets are presented here with no translations, Peter Schreier’s sentient, word-lively singing and Jörg Demus’s light-filled playing of their prettily supportive piano accompaniments engage the listener immediately.

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Dream is brought into gentle waking life in ‘Das Leben ist ein Traum’ before a light-footed evocation of happy-go-lucky open-air life, all larksong and gambolling lambs, in ‘Die Landlust’. The pathos of unrequited love in ‘Trost unglücklicher Liebe’ is subtly differentiated by Schreier from the tender lament of ‘Auf meines Vaters Grab’ and the naive, awe-filled spirituality of the ‘Geistliches Lied’. But best of all, perhaps, in this most delicately judged recital, is the deadpan drollery of ‘Lob der Faulheit’, hymn of praise to idleness whose yawning vowels provide barely enough breath for the words to be gasped out. Hilary Finch