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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDJ33106
Recording details: June 2000
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: February 2002
Total duration: 27 minutes 43 seconds

'The four soloists couldn’t be bettered … a delight from start to finish … a treasure indeed, a disc anybody interested in Lieder ought to have' (Gramophone)

'An irresistible palette of voices … Unmitigated pleasure, from start to finish' (BBC Music Magazine)

'With the guidance and pianism of Graham Johnson the ensembles are beautifully done' (American Record Guide)

'beautifully judged performances' (The Guardian)

'The recording is intimate and precise … the new Hyperion set should prove unbeatable' (International Record Review)

'The foursome on this album captures the mood perfectly, pointing up the charm and grace of the songs, as well as their moments of exoticism' (The Times)

'some real gems … inspiring' (Classic FM Magazine)

'A distinguished issue, one of the best in a distinguished series of recordings' (Fanfare, USA)

'rich in poetic insights' (Music Week)

'This is a recital to make you lean back and enjoy' (Daily Post, Liverpool)

Spanisches Liederspiel, Op 74
composer
24-29 March 1849
author of text
after various Spanish poets

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
It seems likely that Schumann intended Op 74 to have something of a narrative unity: two individual lovers have a say in Melancholie and Geständnis and otherwise the ensembles personify the female lover (Erste Begegnung, Liebesgram, Botschaft and Ich bin geliebt) and the male (Intermezzo). But this cyclic concision was arrived at only after the first performance. The composer had at first planned the work differently: in the first version the alto also had a solo song, and the bass had two. After the first performance of the work the composer wrote to his friend Friedrich Kistner (30 April 1849) that the cycle needed tightening up. At this stage Schumann decided to cut the two slowish songs (the original numbers 4 and 6) – one for alto, and one for baritone; he felt that despite their charming effect they impeded the work’s dramatic flow. Schumann also admitted that Der Contrabandiste ‘isn’t, strictly speaking, part of the action’. It seems obvious that the discarded songs were Hoch, hoch sind die Berge (for alto) and Flutenreicher Ebro (for baritone), both composed in April 1849, and both recycled in the Spanische Liebeslieder, the rest of which were composed in November of that year. As for Der Contrabandiste, it seems that Schumann could not bear to lose it entirely so he published it as an appendix to the work. At a guess I think it likely that this was originally placed as the tenth song in the sequence in order to provide a contrast of mood and tempo between Geständnis and Botschaft.

In cutting song IV, songs III and V are adjacent and both in the key of G minor, which seems a pity in an otherwise tonally resourceful plan; separating two G minor songs with a number in the relative major had been a good idea. The loss of the gentle and mellifluous Flutenreicher Ebro (VI) removed a bridge between the very different moods of the deeply serious duet In der Nacht and the flippant Es ist verrathen. The excision of Der Contrabandiste deprives the cycle of a change of tempo resulting in the rather similar moods of IX and XI. Schumann’s second thoughts had both their pros and cons and it is easy to imagine a performance of the twelve-song version of this work on the concert platform today. Even in the published version the tonal scheme is somewhat reminiscent of the type which unites the Eichendorff Liederkreis Op 39 where the cycle begins in F sharp minor and ends in F sharp major having been through various related keys. The tonal relationships between the songs in the Spanisches Liederspiel are based on tonic to dominant or subdominant, minor to relative major, or relationships of the shared third (as between A minor and F major).

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2002

Other albums featuring this work
'Schumann: The Complete Songs' (CDS44441/50)
Schumann: The Complete Songs
MP3 £35.00FLAC £35.00ALAC £35.00Buy by post £38.50 CDS44441/50  10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Women's lives and loves' (CDA67563)
Women's lives and loves
'Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1 – Christine Schäfer' (CDJ33101)
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1 – Christine Schäfer
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