Wolf: Goethe Lieder

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Wolf
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Goethe Lieder
PERFORMER: Wolfgang Holzmair (baritone), Thomas Palm (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 14022 DDD
This anthology of 23 settings of Goethe poems adds up to a recital that is wide-ranging both musically and emotionally. After an exuberant start with ‘Frech und froh’ I and II, the mood changes, with the tormented Harfenspieler songs and the impassioned and reflective Lieder aus dem Westöstlicher Divan, forming the bulk of the disc, only to be raised again at the end with the comic ‘Epiphanias’.

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The Austrian baritone Wolfgang Holzmair gives a performance in every way exemplary: impeccably modulated and shaded, and dramatically moving. From the poignant poetry of ‘Anakreons Grab’, probably the best-known song in this collection, in which his slight but appropriate sense of detachment prevents the piece from seeming sentimental, to the sublimely romantic ‘Frühling übers Jahr’, with its irresistible sense of expectation and ardour.

Wolf’s complex piano parts are far more than mere accompaniment, and here they are excellently served by Thomas Palm’s sensitive yet assertive playing.

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One criticism: this is a live recording, though there is nothing on the cover to indicate the fact, nor any information regarding when or where the recording was made. Though the audience is well behaved – the coughers notwithstanding – there is a disproportionate amount of applause, which, though justified, is intrusive and could easily have been edited out. Claire Wrathall