Wolf

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COMPOSERS: Wolf
LABELS: Stone Records
WORKS: Eichendorff-Lieder; Nachruf; In der Fremde I ‘Da fahr ich still im Wagen’; In der Fremde II ‘Ich geh durch die dunklen Gassen’ (2nd setting); In der Fremde VI ‘Wolken wälderwärts gegangen’; Ruckkehr; Die Kleine
PERFORMER: Katherine Broderick (soprano), Nicky Spence (tenor), David Stout (baritone), Sholto Kynoch (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 5060192780420

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Oxford Lieder Live continues its series of the complete songs of Hugo Wolf, with the composer’s settings of the Romantic poetry of Joseph von Eichendorff forming Volume 8. Six early settings offer Schumannesque cameos of the archetypal lone traveller, the outsider, in physical and spiritual exile. And the main cycle of 20 songs contains more quirky, keenly observed vignettes of soldiers, sailors, love-lorn students and minstrels.

The variety of portraits is matched by the palette of voices chosen by deviser and accompanist Sholto Kynoch. The baritone, David Stout, is the very incarnation of the stalwart, stoic companion in ‘Der Freund’, despite a sometimes sepulchral darkness through his closed vowels. He’s less successful as the light-hearted student serenader; more attractive in the strength and energy he brings to the swashbuckling ‘Der Schrenkenberger’ and ‘Der Glücksritter’.
Nicky Spence is more agile throughout his tenor range, and more expressive in his characterisation of the folksy, flirty ‘Der Soldat’, the frustrated lover of ‘Der verzweifelte Liebhaber’, and in the tenderness of the gently inflected ‘Erwartung’.

Best of all, Katherine Broderick’s star-bright soprano creates sensuous nocturnes of silent love in ‘Verschwiegene Liebe’ and ‘Die Nacht’. The catalogue is short on recordings of this neglected cycle; but, for more consistent polish and idiomatic style, you may like to consider Stephan Genz, Bernarda Fink and Roger Vignoles on Helios (CDH 55435).

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Hilary Finch