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Koechlin & Wolf - texts for CD re-releases

Charles Koechlin: Si tu le veux op.5 No.5. Sept chansons pour Gladys op.151 : M’a dit Amour / Tu croyais le tenir / Prise au piege / La naiade / Le cyclone / La colombe / Fatum. Le cortege d’Amphitrite op.31 No.2. Amphise et Melitta op.31 No.6. Declin d’amour op.13 No.1. Aux temps des fees op.7 No.4. Le repas prepare op.31 No.5. La chanson des Ingenues op.22 No.1. Amethyste op.35 No.2. Hymne a Venus op.68 No.1. L’Hiver op.8 No.2. La Nuit op.1 No.2. L’Ete op.1 No.5. L’Air op.8 No.5. La Lune op.8 No.4. Le Printemps op.1 No.4. Le The op.1 No.3.
Claudette Leblanc & Boaz Sharon (1985)
Hyperion Helios CDH55163f

Hugo Wolf; 6-CD box
Fischer-Dieskau & Daniel Barenboim
Deutsche Grammophon 477 8707

Both these composers were inspired by poets, and very good at choosing interesting verse for setting to music (as against that for many French chansons which have insipid words).

There is a rich treasury of songs to be explored in Koechlin's massive oeuvre; during his first period he needed the inspiration of poets before he was ready to enter the 'perilous world' of chamber music.

Here is a good selection from his Op 1 (early -90s) to Op 151 (1935). They are sung superbly by a delightful soprano - a seductive voice of great beauty, which she uses with finely judged nuance (Gramophone) - partnered, on a Bösendorfer, by a Koechlin specialist, Boaz Sharon.

Documentation is full, and fully reproduced from the original CDA release, complete wth words in French and English (Graham Thorne). I can not think of a greater pleasure than getting to know these often original songs, following the words in language of your choice. But if an hour of them was programmed in a London recital, the hall would be empty...

Many of Fischer-Dieskau's fans will welcome an opportunity to revisit his Wolf Lieder recordings at reduced price, and the partnership with Daniel Barenboim in the '70s brought "more ambitious nuance, vocal colouring and verbal inflexion" (William Mann) than with Gerald Moore before.

Which would be fine, had not a decision been taken (all too common with Universal Music Group) to omit the texts completely from this Deutsche Grammophon boxed set.

Why couldn't they have at the least put the original texts and translations on their website, as so many record companies now do? You can, of course, find many of them on Emily Ezust's public-spirited website, but you'd have to do quite a lot of navigating...*

So my firm recommendation is to purchase the Koechlin; you'll rarely be disappointed by discs released on Hyperion's Helios label.

Peter Grahame Woolf

P.S. It may be the case that Deutsche Grammophon was aware of the availability of Wolf texts elsewhere? If so, it is regrettable that no mention is made of possibilities in Richard Evidon's new introductory essay, nor below it in his practically empty last page.

*Help on the internet is is at hand also from Amazon.

Buy The Fischer Dieskau Book of Lieder, where you will find the texts and translations of a good selection (but far from all) of the Wolf songs collected in these six CDs. But using its several indexes is not straightforward and you will need to pause your CD player whilst ascertaining on what a page is to be found a particular poem. Before purchasing, you may want to check the relative prices of downloading selected tracks or buying the entre box.

Happy listening ! [PGW]


See also: http://www.musicalpointers.co.uk/reviews/cddvd09/HaydnOperasComplete.html [Editor]