O täler weit, O höhen
LABELS: MDG Scene
WORKS: German Romantic folksongs
PERFORMER: DROPS Vocal Quartet, Detmold Horn Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 622 0289-2
Now’s the time to admit that Elvis Presley’s ‘Wooden Heart’ was my introduction to Lieder. There’s no mention of ‘Holz’ or ‘Herz’ in the great original; but this simple German dialect folksong, ‘Muss i denn’, reappears here in its full glory, in a setting by Philipp Friedrich Silcher, founder of the first ever Liedertafel, and whose collections and adaptations of folksongs garlanded the early 19th century. Up hill and down dale they lead us, the German DROPS ensemble, slick and savvy as the King’s Singers.
This album follows the journey from heart song to art song, as early Romantic composers and poets put on their walking boots to go a-wandering into the natural world which nourished their inner longings. Here is Wilhelm Müller’s ‘Das Wandern’, its mill-wheel turning like a musical clock in Carl Friedrich Zöllner’s setting for vocal quartet; here is Goethe’s ‘Heidenröslein’ in a disarmingly simple setting by Heinrich Werner; and here, too, is Schubert’s ‘Lindenbaum’, for vocal and brass quartet, snug and reassuringly angst-frei. Lovingly recorded and perfectly balanced, the singing of the DROPS ensemble, with its gently sprung rhythms, goes down as easily as a lightly scented Riesling; and the Detmold Horn Quartet provides inimitable chasers in the form of post-horn serenades, hunting-horn reveilles and evocations of the deep Waldeinsamkeit of the German Romantic soul. Hilary Finch