Loewe: Ballades

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COMPOSERS: Loewe
LABELS: Arts Archives
ALBUM TITLE: Loewe
WORKS: Ballades
PERFORMER: Hermann Prey, Karl Engel
CATALOGUE NO: 43021 2
Long before Carl Loewe was championed by the likes of Cord Garben and the CPO label (in their ongoing Complete Edition of his Lieder und Balladen), both Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Hermann Prey waved the flag for the so-called ‘North German Schubert’, itinerant performance-artist par excellence. Loewe would travel the length and breadth of the Fatherland, giving gripping solo recitals of his ballads, hot off the press, to a pre-cinema audience hungry for thrills and spills, suspense and sentiment in equal measure.

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This cleanly remastered reissue of a 1976 Hohenems recital is a worthy tribute to Prey, who died in 1998, and to Karl Engel, his captivating stage-manager of an accompanist. Prey’s sepulchral, sometimes laconic bass-baritone is ideally suited to the ghostly midnight parades, the tiptoeing robbers, the drollery of the Duke out hunting and the spooking of an ancient water-mill and a water-nymph. The more gory delights of ‘Edward’, the ‘Erlkönig’ and ‘Herr Oluf’ are not to be found here; but the tenderly Schubertian ‘Spirito sancto’, Loewe’s last song, is given due honour. Hilary Finch