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Track(s) taken from CDJ33105

Dichterliebe, Op 48

May 1840; published in 1844
author of text

Christopher Maltman (baritone), Graham Johnson (piano)
Recording details: April 2000
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: February 2001
Total duration: 28 minutes 53 seconds

Other recordings available for download

James Gilchrist (tenor), Anna Tilbrook (piano)
Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)


'Hyperion’s Schumann series continues to strike gold with a collection … that finds baritone Christopher Maltman on superb form … with this superbly executed recital, Maltman leaps in a single bound into the front rank of Lieder interpreters today. There are so many deeply satisfying performances here … it is difficult to know which to alight on for special praise. A perfectly balanced recording adds to one’s pleasure in listening to this generously filled CD, which is up to the high standard of this series to date’ (Gramophone)

'This is a treasurable issue – generous in quality and quantity alike. As with the Hyperion Schubert Song edition one struggles for new ways of expressing one's admiration. Quite apart from the superb material, and the excellence of the performances, there is a booklet 122 pages long, packed with stimulating notes of great perception, accurate yet readable translations, small but clear illustrations and, most fascinating of all, a tabulated listing of the contents of Heine's books of verse, with against each the names of the composers who have set the lyrics. In a word: magnificent!' (International Record Review)

'This disc by itself is enough to establish [Maltman] as one of the genre’s most important recent exponents. This is a probing, generous Dichterliebe, full of detail and thoroughly engrossing from beginning to end – comments that in fact apply to everything on this disc. This disc is a strong contender for my Want List this year, and is very highly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

'One of the most intelligently thought-out accounts of Dichterliebe on record' (Varsity)

'A magnificent achievement' (The Singer)

'There are so many delights to be found here, and the combination of a beautiful voice, Johnson’s superbly sensitive playing, and the intimacy of Hyperion’s benchmark recorded sound must surely propel this towards an awards ceremony or two. The Dichterliebe cycle is an intimate, deeply felt performance, winningly understated, and a great tribute to the intelligent musicality of both performers. It concludes a disc which absolutely bursts with goodies – 77 minutes of bliss' (Amazon.co.uk)
Schumann had already set a complete cycle from the Buch der Lieder—the nine Junge Leiden poems which made up the Liederkreis Op 24, composed in February 1840. He had also chosen poems from the Romanzen section, as well as Die Heimkehr. Only the Lyrisches Intermezzo remained to be conquered. Schumann had ventured only once into these pages (for two settings of Die Lotosblume), but by May 1840 he had decided to give his serious attention to a new cycle based on this sequence.

They had first appeared in print in another context: Tragödien nebst einem lyrischen Intermezzo of 1823. The verse tragedies of the title were William Ratcliff and Almansor; these were placed on either side of seemingly autobiographical poems which traced the progress of an unhappy love affair. These highly personalized fragments (there are only three poems in the cycle in which there is no direct reference to the poet’s feelings) thus formed an ‘Intermezzo’ between two historical dramas. The title Lyrisches Intermezzo was retained even when the poems no longer fulfilled this function. The first poem (‘Im wunderschönen Monat Mai’) was added to the original sequence, almost certainly as late as 1827, for the publication of the Buch der Lieder.

Clara Wieck, and the struggle to win her hand in marriage, was Schumann’s inspiration in composing Dichterliebe. But endless paper and ink have been expended on the study of the feminine inspiration behind Heine’s lyrics. The great literary scholars of the late nineteenth century came to the conclusion that the Buch der Lieder was inspired by the poet’s love for not one, but two, of his cousins—daughters of his detested rich uncle Salomon: Amalie Heine (known as ‘Molly’) and Therese. There are bits and pieces of evidence supporting this conjecture (Heine’s love for Molly was real enough, but probably not long-lasting) but there are no documents which come anywhere near to explaining all the references and contradictions in the scenario of the Lyrisches Intermezzo outlined below. In his late memoirs the poet tells the story of his youthful love for redheaded Josefa, born into a family of executioners. Was this a redheaded herring on Heine’s part, or truthful? Like so much else about the earlier life of this enigmatic man, we shall never know.

The temptation to explain poems by connecting them directly to the poet’s relationship with women is something derived from Goethe scholarship where such matches are possible in many instances. This led scholars to assume that Heine’s poetry also arose from personal experience, but for the last fifty years this assumption has been discredited. Must we assume that the ‘I’ of the narrator’s voice is also the ‘I’ of the poet? In this case apparently not. Although there was a side to Heine himself which fostered the connection between his poetry and his life, at other times he debunked such theses. William Rose’s study of 1962 demonstrates that Heine could not possibly have written this poetry at the same time as he was allegedly enamoured with his cousins. The poet’s amorous adventures were more frequent (as were Schumann’s) than we shall ever know. Both men paid the price with venereal disease. To this extent there was a poisoning of the well of love; in Heine’s case there was also an ongoing difficulty in terms of his relationships with women until he found satisfaction of sorts in a marriage with a French woman who shared neither his intellect nor his interests. (The parallel with Goethe’s marriage is obvious.) Even if the poet constructed these lyrics from real memories, dreams and so on, it seems likely that the original female cast of characters was a large one, and it is this array which was probably reduced to the archetype of the faithless woman in the Buch der Lieder. Thus, although the earlier scholars ask us to believe in one, at the most two, beloveds (Amalie and Therese), Heine’s words and moods vary enough to suggest a broad range of emotional confrontations over a number of years. And this is apart from the distinct possibility that much of this work is derived from the poet’s fantasy and imagination.

Schumann could not have known these theories about Heine’s cousins. But his composer’s instincts would have told him that he had to reduce and focus the many and various impressions of the Lyrisches Intermezzo to make the listener believe in a Dichterliebe where the poet—his admired Heinrich Heine—could play the part of a hero, dignified even in grief. As the figure of the beloved appears in, and is met with, so many different moods in the poems, it would be best to keep her in the background, an elusive and mysterious figure in the poet’s memory.

from notes by Graham Johnson © 2001

Avoir composé ce cycle («Les Amours du poète») si rapidement après avoir achevé le chef-d’œuvre Eichendorff prouve, s’il en était besoin, que Schumann est «dans une période faste» et au cœur de l’époque la plus productive de toute sa carrière. Un poète différent donne naissance à une musique différente: si Eichendorff est un porte-drapeau de la vieille garde de l’Allemagne catholique, fidèle aux légendes et coutumes de la nation, ainsi qu’à son précieux sol, Heine est le poète du changement et de l’insurrection, à la fois personnelle et politique. Il nous apparaît ici exactement comme il est apparu à Schumann en ce jour de chance à Munich, en mai 1828: l’incarnation du poète incompris, victime de la stupidité et de l’insensibilité des autres, souriant avec ironie à ses critiques mesquins et supportant la trahison avec un stoïcisme révélateur d’une grandeur d’âme qui fait honte sans peine à la mesquinerie de tous ceux qui l’entourent. C’est un portrait flatteur auquel le poète ingrat (ce que Schumann allait finir par comprendre) n’aurait su rêver, même s’il avait été encore plus fort qu’il ne l’était dans l’art de la manipulation et de la propagande personnelle. En souvenir d’un accueil amical à un jeune étudiant inconnu, Schumann accorde à Heine un portrait musical né de la pure admiration de ses vers et de sa gratitude pour sa position déclarée contre les Philistins. Le monde dans son ensemble aime et vénère Heine bien davantage à cause des Dichterliebe, en particulier le monde anglophone qui juge très souvent un poète allemand au travers des musiques qu’il inspire. La musique est stupéfiante à tous égards—du début désorienté du cycle (où tout un monde musical se met en mouvement lorsque la porte d’un jardin clos s’ouvre sur un univers tonal magique, un matin de mai) jusqu’au postlude enchanté et enchantant du piano. Ces doubles limites contiennent au sein de leurs paramètres stylistiques des vagues successives de colère, de désillusion et d’ironie. L’amertume cède peu à peu à la noblesse de la conciliation et de l’acceptation pour lesquelles seuls les grands compositeurs sont capables de trouver la musique—et Schumann s’avère ici être l’un d’entre eux.

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

Die Vertonung dieses Zyklus so kurze Zeit nach Vollendung des Eichendorff-Meisterwerks ist hin­reichend als Beweis, soweit ein solcher sich nicht erübrigt, dass Schumann „in Fahrt“ ist und er sich in der Mitte der produktivsten Phase seiner gesamten Laufbahn befindet. Ein anderer Dichter verlangt entsprechend andere Behandlung: Wenn Eichendorff der Verfechter der alten Garde des katholischen Deutschlands ist und die Volkslegenden, die Bräuche und den geliebten Boden des Landes pflegt, so ist Heine der Dichter von Veränderung und Aufstand im persönlichen ebenso wie im politischen Leben. Hier tritt er uns genau so gegenüber, wie er dies bei der Begegnung mit Schumann an jenem glücklichen Tag in München im Mai 1828 tat: als Inkarnation des missverstandenen Dichters, an dem die Stupidität und Gefühllosigkeit Anderer sich versündigt haben, während er ironisch über seine engstirnigen Kritiker lächelt und Verrat mit einem aus seelischer Größe geborenen Stoizismus erträgt, der mühelos die Kleinlichkeit seiner Mitmenschen beschämt. Dies ist ein schmeichelhaftes Porträt, wie es sich der undankbare Dichter (als den Schumann ihn schließlich erkannte) kaum hätte wünschen können, selbst wenn er ein noch besserer Meister von Meinungsmanipulation und Selbstdarstellung gewesen wäre, als er ohnehin schon war. In Erinnerung an jenen freundlichen Empfang des jungen, unbekannten Studenten wird Heine von Schumann musikalisch aus reiner Verehrung für seine Dichtung und Dankbarkeit für seine offene Gegnerschaft gegen die Philister porträtiert. Allgemein liebt und huldigt die Welt Heine weit mehr für seine Dichterliebe, vor allem die englischsprachige Welt, die einen deutschen Dichter häufig nach der von ihm inspirierten Vertonung beurteilt. Die Musik ist in jeder Hinsicht atemberaubend: vom orientierungslosen Beginn des Zyklus, der eine ganze musikalische Welt in Bewegung setzt, wenn die Tür in einer Gartenmauer sich an einem Morgen im Mai zu einer magischen Tonwelt öffnet, bis zum ebenso gefesselten wie fesselnden Klaviernachspiel. Diese doppelten Grenzen umfassen innerhalb ihrer stilistischen Parameter Welle auf Welle von Unmut, enttäuschten Illusionen und Ironie. Bitterkeit weicht allmählich einer Stimmung edler Versöhnung und Akzeptanz, für die nur große Komponisten die richtige Musik finden, und Schumann erweist sich hier als einer von ihnen.

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

Other albums featuring this work

Schumann: Dichterliebe & other Heine Settings
Schumann: Song Cycles
Studio Master: CKD474Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Schumann: The Complete Songs
CDS44441/5010CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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