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Hyperion Records

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Faust and Magaretha. after Ary Scheffer (1795-1858)
Sotheby’s Picture Library
Track(s) taken from CDA67055
Recording details: September 1998
Tonstudio Teije van Geest, Sandhausen, Germany
Produced by Teije van Geest
Engineered by Teije van Geest
Release date: February 1999
Total duration: 7 minutes 37 seconds

'Stephan Genz has one of the most beautiful voices around today, used with such authority and imagination that I have found myself playing his Beethoven recital over and over again. I have never heard these songs sung more beautifully. An instant classic' (Gramophone)

'This disc, immaculately recorded, should win many new friends for Beethoven's songs' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Perfectly sung' (The Independent)

'A voice of warm, velvety beauty. A disc to have one reassessing Beethoven as song-writer' (The Guardian)

'As good as any anthology of Beethoven songs on CD' (Classic CD)

'Strongly recommended' (Hi-Fi News)

An die Hoffnung, Op 84
composer
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Beethoven had already set this text ten years earlier as a relatively straightforward strophic setting (Op 32). In comparison, Op 94 is vastly more sophisticated, with a structure reminiscent of an operatic recitative and aria. Almost as if to compensate for the generalized nature of the earlier version, here Beethoven might be accused of over-milking the pudding.

Unusually, Beethoven strives throughout to translate directly in musical terms what is actually being sung. He adopts an uncharacteristically flexible approach to tempo, especially in the opening section when the questioning of the first four lines finds resolve first in an Allegro affirmation (‘Hoffen soll der Mensch!’) and then in the gently flowing triplets of a dreamy Larghetto (‘Die du so gern in heil’gen’).

Beethoven also subtly colours the vocal line to heighten the meaning of the text (the second stanza’s ‘Den Dulder ahnen’, for example), and uses changes of tonality to enhance contrasting moods, as at the unexpected move down a major third at the start of the third stanza. He even makes abrupt changes of figuration to emphasize the poetic content, as at the third stanza’s mention of ‘Mitternacht’, where the accompaniment suddenly changes to gently agitated semiquaver triplets.

from notes by Julian Haylock © 1999

Other albums featuring this work
'Beethoven: Songs' (GAW21055)
Beethoven: Songs
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