LABELS: Berlin Classics
WORKS: Krämerspiegel, Op. 66; Lieder
PERFORMER: Peter Schreier (tenor) Norman Shetler (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0021282 BC ADD Reissue
Music publishers had better be on their mettle: Richard Strauss’s Krämerspiegel is in circulation again. When Strauss fell out with his publishers he commissioned a theatre critic to write six satirical poems about them and their dastardly colleagues. He enjoyed setting them so much that he wrote four more, and the 12 songs of the Krämerspiegel, with their biting word- and note-play, are performed here in their laconic glory.
Reinecke, Breitkopf und Härtel and Schott all get it in the neck – and, in Peter Schreier’s penetrating tenor, with a fiercely honed knife-blade of irony too. It takes a singer as verbally alert and musically quick-witted as Schreier to give voice to these multifarious charges of exploiting and suppressing the composer’s art. Unless your German is up to scratch, though, you’ll have to take my word for it, as the disc offers no text translations.
Norman Shetler enjoys the ridiculously long-winded piano preludes and postludes, and the oblique references to the music of both Strauss and others. Alas, the publishers took Strauss to court, forced him to honour his original contract, and the songs were banned for decades. They still tend to be eclipsed by the Strauss we want to know and love – and whom Schreier and Shetler present so perceptively in nine other songs, including a ‘Morgen’ of most sensitive and rare equipoise. Hilary Finch