Nachklang - Luca Bernard and Hans Adolfsen. © 2021 Solo Muisca GmbH

CD Spotlight

Beautifully Crafted

GEOFF PEARCE listens to Lieder by Swiss composers Hans Schaeuble, Frank Martin, Peter Mieg, Othmar Schoeck and Arthur Honegger

'... one of the loveliest discs I have ever heard.'


Of course I am familiar with some of the music of Arthur Honegger, and Frank Martin has been a long time favourite of mine, but the other composers on this disc were unknown to me.

The first composer on this disc is Hans Schaeuble (1906-1988). This work, Sieben Winterlieder, is Schaeuble's Opus 1 - settings of poems by Hans Roelli. Unfortunately there is no English translation of the songs in the accompanying booklet, but as these songs were written for the Swiss Skiing Association, the subject matter can be speculated. The songs are 1-3 minutes in length each, written in a broadly impressionistic style, with much of the colour in the piano writing and the careful choice of chords.

Listen — Hans Schaeuble: Winterwald
(track 4, 0:43-1:20) ℗ 2021 Solo Musica GmbH :

Arthur Honegger (1892-1955) is a much better known composer, being a member of Les Six. He wrote the Trois Poemes de Claudel and wrote these songs in 1939-40), at a time he was writing a great deal of vocal music. These little songs are charming and, at least to my ears, very French in their feeling. (They remind me of the art songs from around the turn of the century.) Honegger is somewhat overlooked these days, and his songs even more so. This is a great pity, as in these works he shows himself to be an interesting and skilled writer.

Listen — Arthur Honegger: Le Delphinium
(track 9, 0:00-0:29) ℗ 2021 Solo Musica GmbH :

Peter Mieg (1906-1990) is totally unknown to me, but he was a musician who had a variety of other talents and was much liked and respected by many of his peers, including Bartók, Martinů and Stravinsky. The song presented here, 'Erlebnis' from Three Songs after Hofmannsthal, is quite long and I think it is a pity that all three songs were not presented. This is a beautiful song, and to me, at any rate, is the find on this disc. Whilst obviously a twentieth century work, this song is very lyrical and romantic. At nearly seven minutes in length, this is the longest song on the disc. Again, a translation would be most welcome.

Listen — Peter Mieg: Erlebnis (Three Songs after Hofmannsthal)
(track 11, 5:41-6:41) ℗ 2021 Solo Musica GmbH :

Frank Martin (1890-1974) is one of my favourite composers. Presented here is Dedicare de Pierre de Ronsard - a French lyricist of the sixteenth century. The structure of the song follows the four parts of the lyrics and is very beautiful, if somewhat unearthly in it’s melodic line and often restless harmonies.

Listen — Frank Martin: Dedicare de Pierre de Ronsard
(track 12, 1:26-2:13) ℗ 2021 Solo Musica GmbH :

The last works here are ten songs by Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957), again not someone I am familiar with, and who is the most traditional of all the composers presented here. These songs, of varied mood, could have easily been written at the end of the nineteenth century, and are true and beautifully crafted Lieder in the tradition of Schubert and Schumann. At times I am reminded of Hugo Wolf, a composer that Schoeck much admired, and also of Mahler and Richard Strauss. The songs on this disc span three decades of Lieder writing, and the skill Schoeck shows here attests to the fact that he is regarded as one of the twentieth century's most important Lieder composers.

Listen — Othmar Schoeck: Schifferliedchen
(track 18, 1:05-1:49) ℗ 2021 Solo Musica GmbH :

I enjoyed these performances by tenor Luca Bernard and his associated artist, pianist Hans Adolfsen very much. The musicians complement each other very well - a must in Lieder - and Luca Bernard has a pleasing sound, with a brightness and clarity making it easy to follow his diction. He is also a master at the subtle emotional shifts and colour which are essential in Lieder. Aldolfsen, sensitive and responsive, is an accompanist to die for. This music is not often performed and is certainly enjoyable. The recording is clear and there is plenty of ambience without it ever being too much. My only reservation is that there are no translations in English, and in the case of Lieder recordings, I regard this as a significant drawback. However, this is one of the loveliest discs I have ever heard.

Copyright © 14 April 2021 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia









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