Pfitzner: Lieder, Vol. 2

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COMPOSERS: Pfitzner
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Lieder, Vol. 2
PERFORMER: Julie Kaufman (soprano), Christoph Prégardien (tenor), Andreas Schmidt (baritone), Donald Sulzen, Michael Gees, Rudolf Jansen (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 364-2
The openly stated musical conservatism of Hans Pfitzner, with its trappings of anti-Semitism, made him into a useful rent-a-quote for the Nazis, and thus subsequently a tainted and largely discredited figure. Ironically the very notion of conservatism within his work disguises a more complex reality, for as this second volume of a complete edition of his songs demonstrates this close contemporary of Richard Strauss could take the common building blocks of late Romantic style and rearrange them in ways that were new and sometimes startling. Schumann and Brahms may be the dominant influences, but the end-result is distinctive and anything but regressive.

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The favoured poets of other Romantic composers – Heine and Eichendorff (Pfitzner considered himself an Eichendorff specialist) – are well represented here in songs written between 1888 and 1901, their characteristic moods matched in settings that are sophisticated in expression and technically superb.

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Three singer/accompanist duos share out the repertoire, each taking at least one opus number complete. All three provide interpretations of the highest calibre, Christoph Prégardien’s contributions confirming his reputation as a thoughtful performer, Julie Kaufmann’s crystalline soprano revealing the shapeliness of Pfitzner’s lines, and Andreas Schmidt essaying several dramatic items with eloquence. George Hall