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Track(s) taken from CDJ33124

Fünf Lieder, Op 94

composer
1883/4; published in December 1884 as Fünf Lieder für eine tiefe Singstimme und Klavier

Robert Holl (bass-baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: September 2010
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2012
Total duration: 3 minutes 59 seconds

Cover artwork: Photograph by Benjamin Ealovega.
 
1
Mit vierzig Jahren  [3'59]
2
Steig auf, geliebter Schatten  [2'33]
3
Mein Herz ist schwer  [2'30]
4
5
Kein Haus, keine Heimat  [0'39]

Reviews

'Through Holl's profound responses to the word-setting and to the songs' subtle shifts of emotion, he can focus the anguish of the listening lover in An die Nachtigall and powerfully tune into the more veiled melancholy of Schwermut … for the Four Serious Songs themselves, Holl brings a deep sense of empathetic humanity to the live, deeply felt and thoughtfully reasoned inner monologues which he makes of them' (BBC Music Magazine)

'In a superb sleevenote essay, pianist Graham Johnson argues that the Four Serious Songs' confrontations with mortality are neither religious nor consolatory, and Holl adds existential rage into the mix. The effect is awesome, but makes for difficult listening' (The Guardian)

'Holl's voice, reminiscent of Fischer-Dieskau's but rather more of a real bass … is rich, true and resonant. He uses it simply, without self-conscious artifice, and the result is some very beautiful singing. Johnson's accompaniment is always skilled and perceptive, never over-emphatic, and he makes the most of Brahms's complex modulations and occasional, poignant, almost Schumann-like postludes … Holl's voice and manner suit these songs extremely well and his performance of them is beautifully judged and very moving. This disc, while the whole recital has notable integrity and quality, would be worth having for these last songs alone' (International Record Review)

'Robert Holl has a mellifluous voice and a sensitive manner, bringing refinement, vividness and a wide dynamic range to Hyperion’s fourth volume of Brahms’s songs. Pianist Graham Johnson is not only a perceptive accompanist, but a fine writer—he has penned an extensive booklet note, a masterpiece in itself that includes texts and translations. Together, he and Holl are magnificent and magnetic, and the sound quality here is exemplary' (Time Out)
This opus number, united by its tonalities for low voice, and with texts that can, and should, be sung by one singer, is one of the composer’s published groupings that repays performance as a whole, or even as a kind of mini-cycle. Brahms’s friend, the surgeon Billroth, clearly perceived it is a kind of equivalent to Schubert’s Winterreise, although he saw the songs as being equally linked with autumn. Certainly, in the first song, the imagery of taking up the wanderer’s walking staff with renewed energy as the narrator makes his way to his final destination, is strongly reminiscent of the closing sentiments of Das Wirtshaus from Schubert’s great cycle.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2012