Loewe: Ballades

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LABELS: Arts Archives
WORKS: Ballades
PERFORMER: Hermann Prey, Karl Engel
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.


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