Like so many artists from north of the Alps, Wolf was lured by the Mediterranean south, an intoxicating world of light, sensual grace and intense, often violent emotions. His ‘Spanisches Liederbuch’ of 1889–90, 34 settings of Iberian folk poems translated by Emanuel Geibel and Paul Heyse, is the finest fruit of a long-lasting fascination with Spain.
In the sacred settings, Seefried brings her characteristic intensity as well as a guileless radiance. In the secular settings we get to experience the coquettish and mischievous side of the singer. From the same year (1959) we have a selection of Wolf’s Mörike settings.
As a rare pendant, Seefried performs Werner Egk’s ‘Quattro canzoni’, composed in 1932, after an Italian sojourn, and revised in 1955. In their florid virtuosity – uninhibitedly relished by Seefried – and popular dance rhythms, these four songs are a German’s tribute to Goethe’s ‘land when the lemon trees bloom’.
As for the entire series comprising eleven volumes, Richard Wigmore provides the insightful notes.
Spanisches Liederbuch (selections)*
Eberhard Wächter, baritone
Erik Werba, piano
Oskar Werner, speaker
Erik Werba, piano
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Irmgard Seefried, soprano
* FIRST RELEASE ON CD
° FIRST INTERNATIONAL RELEASE ON CD
Recording Producers: Karl-Heinz Schneider (1–23); Hans Weber (24–27)
Balance Engineer: Gerhard Henjes
Recording Locations: Brahms-Saal, Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria, 27 April–7 May 1959 (1–11), 25 April–2 May 1959 (12–23); Herkulessaal, Munich, Germany, 14–15 November 1960 (24–27)
‘Seefried excels in the pert mockery of “Sagt, seid Ihr es” and the exultant “Mögen alle bösen Zungen” … Erik Werba is meticulous over every nuance – his accompaniments contribute most valuably to this disc’ (Spanisches Liederbuch) Gramophone