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Track(s) taken from CDJ33106

Spanisches Liederspiel, Op 74

24-29 March 1849
author of text
after various Spanish poets

Graham Johnson (piano)
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)
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

Voici ici le Schumann de 1840 et ses hispanisations touristiques de Der Hidalgo. Le choix du compositeur, un cycle souple pour quatre voix avec piano (op. 74) avec quelques solos, quelques duos et quelques ensembles à quatre voix, suivi d’une autre œuvre dans le même style pour quatre voix avec piano à quatre mains (op. 138), aura une influence considérable sur les compositeurs ultérieurs—surtout dans les célèbres Liebeslieder Waltzes de Brahms pour voix et piano à quatre mains qui seront modelées sur l’exemple de Schumann. Les points forts du Liederspiel op. 74 sont peut-être l’extraordinaire duo soprano-ténor In der Nacht (un texte qu’Hugo Wolf choisira également pour son Spanisches Liederbuch), le fulgurant solo de soprano Melancholie et le duo sensuel et enjoué pour voix de femmes, Botschaft.

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

Nach dem „moderneren“ Stil des Handschuh erleben wir hier eine Rückkehr zum Schumann von 1840 und den touristischen Hispaniolisierungen des Hidalgo. Schumanns Entscheidung, einen flexiblen Zyklus für vier Stimmen mit Klavier (op. 74) mit einigen Soli, Duetten und vierstimmigen Ensembles und dann ein weiteres Werk in derselben Weise für vier Stimmen mit Klavierduett (op. 138) zu schaffen, hatte weitreichende Auswirkungen auf die Werke späterer Komponisten und vor allem auf Brahms gefeierte Liebeslieder (Walzer) für Singstimmen und Klavierduett, die sich an Schumanns Beispiel orientieren. Die Höhepunkte von Liederspiel op. 74 sind vielleicht das außerordentliche Sopran-Tenor-Duett In der Nacht (ein auch von Hugo Wolf für sein Spanisches Liederbuch gewählter Text), das hochfliegende Sopransolo Melancholie und das sinnliche, verspielte Duett Botschaft für weibliche Stimmen.

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

Other albums featuring this work

Schumann: The Complete Songs
CDS44441/5010CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
Women's lives and loves
Schumann: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1 - Christine Schäfer
CDJ33101Archive Service
Songs to the moon
Studio Master: SIGCD443Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
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