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Track(s) taken from CDJ33111

Minnespiel, Op 101

composer
1-5 June 1849
author of text
Gesammelte Gedichte, Volume 1, 1836

Hanno Müller-Brachmann (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: June 2000
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard & Antony Howell
Release date: January 2009
Total duration: 24 minutes 22 seconds

Cover artwork: Photograph by Malcolm Crowthers.
 
1
Meine Töne still und heiter  [4'04]

Adrian Thompson (tenor)
2
3
4
Mein schöner Stern!  [2'46]

Adrian Thompson (tenor)
5
6
7
8

Reviews

'This disc goes far to vindicating some of Schumann's least-favoured late songs, not least due to Graham Johnson's eloquent advocacy, in print and in performance' (Gramophone)

'A real disc of discovery: this is Schumann as he is seldom heard. In this final volume of his revelatory Schumann Songs series, Graham Johnson perceptively writes about, accompanies and presents still more rarities, in the voices of both loyal colleagues and of younger singers whom he keenly champions … altogether touching and persuasive performances' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Every time a new instalment of Graham Johnson's complete Schumann song recording appears, I'm eager to lay my hands on it. Each one sheds new light on well-loved masterpieces and brings wonderful neglected songs back to light. The singers are shrewdly chosen to fit the character of the songs, the liner notes are a treasure-trove of learning and insight, and Johnson's wonderful playing illuminates every song' (The Daily Telegraph)

'This is the final instalment of Hyperion's complete edition of Schumann's songs, the brainchild of pianist Graham Johnson, who has overseen and prepared the series with great erudition and care … the best songs are also the most disturbing: Der Einsiedler expresses an almost Mahlerian longing for the freedom from human strife that only solitude can bring … Johnson himself is faultless, as always' (The Guardian)
This set of eight Rückert settings—four solos, two duets, two quartets—contains much beautiful music. Surprisingly (and similarly to the slightly earlier Spanisches Liederspiel Op 78) the baritone is ignored in terms of being given a solo of his own and two of the songs are allocated to the tenor. The work was written in the summer of 1849 following the abortive revolution in Dresden in May of that year (an incident in Schumann’s life fully discussed in the notes to Volume 9 of this series). The diaries show us that this was far from being an uncomplicated period in the composer’s life in terms of his mood-swings and moments of anguished depression. Eric Sams believed that it was in the Minnespiel that we first begin to see deteriorative change in Schumann: ‘there are ominous signs not only in the man but in the music’. It is true that there are moments of edginess here, a certain awkwardness, that are not to be found in the music of 1840; but modern scholarship would certainly give this admittedly uneven work the benefit of the doubt as being simply a gateway work into the composer’s later style—in itself a conscious change of stylistic direction rather than simply the deterioration that Sams diagnoses. Under the fingers, however, some of Minnespiel feels less effective than it might, and the pianist operating on the shop floor, as it were, may give Sams’s view slightly more credence. For the singers this is not entirely a straightforward work either—particularly in terms of shape and tempo—and only the most assured performance of this cycle, seemingly conceived for domestic presentation, will receive an enthusiastic response from listeners.

Schumann’s poetic source for Minnespiel was the first volume of six in Rückert’s Gesammelte Gedichte printed in Erlangen by the firm of Carl Heyder; this initial instalment was issued in 1836. A large portion of the volume is given over to the same Liebesfrühling poems in five sections (or ‘Sträuße’, each being a huge poetic garland or bouquet) that had been the source of Schumann’s Op 37 songs from 1841 recorded much earlier in the Hyperion series, as well as texts in the Op 25 Myrten: Widmung, the two Lieder der Braut, and Zum Schluss.

The composer seems to have searched far and wide within these many poems for his purposes (see the outline below). From the musical point of view he has clearly gone to some trouble to tie this music together in terms of the progression of tonalities. The work begins and ends in G major with substantial C major pieces at either end of the cycle to reinforce the plagal or religious aspect of a work where marriage represents a holy commitment. The central songs move into the flat keys and return to C and G major via a single song in a minor key. The keys for the individual songs are given below; taken together they make an exemplary tonal scheme for a work of this kind:

(i) Meine Töne still und heiter and Die Liebste hat mit Schweigen (two separate poems joined into a single song) are Nos V and IV of a vast 85-poem ‘Zwischenspiel’ (Interlude) rather strangely placed within the body of the second section of Liebesfrühling (‘Zweiter Strauß’) which in itself has 55 numbered poems (pp.278–9); G major (first poem) and C major (second poem).

(ii) Liebster, deine Worte stehlen is No XXXVIII of the first section (‘Erster Strauß’), pp.232–3; after the line of introductory recitative the key is G major.

(iii) Ich bin dein Baum is No XLIII of the same section as (ii) above, p.235; E flat major.

(iv) Mein schöner Stern! is No XXIV of the ‘Zweiter Strauß’, p.253; E flat major (with a deliberately delayed arrival in the tonic).

(v) Schön ist das Fest des Lenzes is No V of the third section (‘Dritter Strauß’), p.271; B flat major.

(vi) O Freund, mein Schirm, mein Schutz! is No LIV of the fourth section (‘Vierter Strauß’), p.423; G minor.

(vii) Die tausend Grüße is No XVI of the ‘Zweiter Strauß’, p.246–7; C major.

(viii) So wahr die Sonne scheinet is No XVIII of the ‘Erster Strauß’, p.222; G major.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2009

Le quatuor vocal avec piano, avec ses possibilités de duos impliquant les différents partenaires, s’était avéré si populaire dans les œuvres d’inspiration espagnole que Schumann a décidé d’utiliser la même formule pour une œuvre d’une plus grande gravité allemande. Les textes sont de ce grand esprit universel et linguiste qu’était Friedrich Rückert et, comme toujours avec Schumann, ils sont tirés de Liebesfrühling, le recueil de centaines de poèmes que le poète a écrits pour célébrer son propre mariage. Il y a des signes très nets d’un «nouveau» style Schumann dans l’adaptation du texte, plus proche des contours naturels du langage, mais Schumann n’a jamais écrit de plus joli lied en ce qui concerne la mélodie et l’harmonie que le solo de ténor Mein schöner Stern! Le quatuor final So wahr die Sonne scheinet (déjà mis en musique en duo en 1841) est aussi une belle inspiration.

extrait des notes rédigées par Graham Johnson © 2010
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Das Vokalquartett mit Klavier und seinen Möglichkeiten für Duette zwischen verschiedenen Mitgliedern des Ensembles hatte sich als so populär bei den von Spanien inspirierten Liedern erwiesen, dass Schumann beschließt, dieselbe Formel auf ein Werk von größerer deutscher Ernsthaftigkeit anzuwenden. Die Texte stammen von dem großen, umfassend gebildeten Linguisten Rückert und, wie immer bei Schumann, aus der Fülle Hunderter Liebesfrühling-Gedichte, mit denen der Dichter sein Eheleben feiert. In der Vertonung der Worte wird ein „neuer“, stärker an den natürlichen Sprechkonturen orientierter Stil deutlich, doch hat Schumann niemals ein lieblicheres Lied bezüglich Melodie und Harmonie als das Tenorsolo Mein schöner Stern! geschrieben. Das abschließende Quartett So wahr die Sonne scheinet (bereits 1841 als Duett vertont) ist ebenfalls eine liebliche Inspiration.

aus dem Begleittext von Graham Johnson © 2010
Deutsch: Henning Weber

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