Wolf: Italienisches Liederbuch

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Italienisches Liederbuch
PERFORMER: Felicity Lott (soprano)Peter Schreier (tenor), Graham Johnson (piano)
Wolf considered his 46 settings of Paul Heyse’s German translations of rispetti – short Italian poems – ‘the most original and artistically consummate of all my works’. Lott, Schreier and Johnson, on this recording, give us an artistically consummate performance. These musicians bring an immediacy and intimacy to both text and music, which is thrilling. Here is longing, humour, love, pain – all intense observations on the complicated landscape of human emotion. Lott relishes her cameo characterisations, from girlish spontaneity in ‘Nein, junger Herr’ to mature reflection in ‘Wenn du, mein Liebster’. There is a glorious warmth and openness to her sound throughout. ‘Wir haben beide lange Zeit geschwiegen’ and ‘Wohl kenn ich euren Stand’ are particularly beautiful. Schreier’s radiant tenor sound ranges from full-throated intensity (‘Dass doch gemallt’) to haunting pianissimo tenderness (‘Sterb’ ich, so hüllt in Blumen’). This is a visceral account. Schreier elongates vowel sounds and indulges in other vocal mischief-making during the more humorous songs. Some may consider this a little overdone, but it certainly adds to the colour and intensity. This is especially Johnson’s shining hour. His remarkable instinct for Wolf’s detail, while moulding his playing around the vocal lines and delivering the nuances of the piano writing, is brilliant. Elise McDougall