Wolf: Mörike Lieder

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COMPOSERS: Wolf
LABELS: Berlin Classics
WORKS: Mörike Lieder
PERFORMER: Siegfried Lorenz (baritone)Norman Shetler (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0092562 BC
It was the poetry of clergyman-turned-teacher of literature Eduard Mörike (1804-75) that suddenly unlocked the gates of Hugo Wolf’s creativity, resulting in 57 settings, almost all of them dating from 1888, when he was 28 years old. This selection of 15 songs, recorded in 1984, includes a number of the better-known examples (though it’s a shame the booklet prints the texts in German only).

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Baritone Siegfried Lorenz fell under the spell of Fischer-Dieskau at a performance of Winterreise when he was 15, and if there’s some discernible influence of the acknowledged master of Lieder singing in his approach then one can only ask what better influence there might be. Lorenz’s adaptable tone, effective colouring of words and impeccable intonation are all to his credit, and he finds a perfect balance between vocal and interpretative values – indeed, like all the best singers, he synthesizes them. His accompanist, Norman Shetler, is clearly an equal partner in the firm, commanding a wide range of pianistic colour and a positively virtuosic technique in the terrifying ‘Der Feuerreiter’. In the several comic items, the duo neatly side-steps the persistent trap of being arch.

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Whatever the mood to be evoked, there is nothing showy about these performances, and nothing overdone. They are simply very, very good. George Hall