Eagerly-awaited new album by uniquely gifted soprano Juliane Banse, whose previous ECM recordings have been showered with awards and positive reviews. Accompanied by the insightful Serbian pianist Aleksandar Madžar, the German singer performs a wonderful programme of music by Alban Berg and Karl Amadeus Hartmann, powerful and poetic songs spanning a turbulent era.
Alban Berg’s early songs, written while he was still under Schoenberg’s tutelage, chart the young composer’s metamorphosis from writer of late romantic love songs to master of the modern idiom. The Berg selections here comprise 18 songs – the Sieben frühe Lieder, the Jugendlieder and two fascinatingly-contrasting versions of Schließe mir die Augen beide from 1900 and 1925.
Hartmann’s cantata Lamento for soprano & piano was made in 1955 out of solo passages from a choral work of 1936/7 dedicated to Berg. A demanding work, it has rarely been recorded. In his note Paul Griffiths writes, “Lamento is a big piece, one that thoroughly engages the two formidable musicians who present it. Banse is the kind of singer Hartmann must have imagined, one who can maintain ease, power and warmth under difficult circumstances, whose singing conveys at once authority and vulnerability and whose musical experience runs from Bach to the present day. Aleksandar Madžar similarly brings out the depth of history and the immediacy of feeling written into this work.”
3. Die Nachtigall
5. Im Zimmer
Über den Bergen
Schliesse mir die Augen beide (1907)
Schliesse mir die Augen beide (1925)
II. An meine Mutter
28th October 2010
“Embedded in their different worlds, each [Berg song] is a jewel-like miniature, in which Juliane Banse invests exquisite expressiveness...Banse is simply in a class of her own with music like this [the Hartmann], fiercely declamatory when required, but tenderly and touchingly entreating, too.”
21st November 2010
“Lamento (1955) sets three works by the 17th-century German poet Andreas Gryphius. Hartmann plainly highlights the equivalence of the Thirty Years War and the Nazi terrors. Banse and Madzar are equally telling. This powerful music is prefaced by 18 compact, intimate songs by Berg.”
26th November 2010
“Alban Berg’s Seven Early Songs have a fascinating sense of an overripe romantic world on the edge of dissolution, shot through with glimpses of a modernism just around the corner. It’s a spirit these two performers catch to absolute perfection. What makes this CD so welcome is that it includes nine other early songs, similarly intense, but hardly known.”
“Juliane Banse brings to all of them her intense voice, focused and lovely...and makes them as memorable as anyone I've ever heard...whatever the merits of this neglected music turn out in the long run to be, they will certainly not be a given a more riveting and committed interpretation than they are by these two artists.”
“her restrained vibrato and extraordinary sense of line make her ideal in this repertoire. There's a truly marvellous fluidity about her singing...It helps, of course, that Banse has such a singularly sensitive collaborator...Anyone interested in the origins of mature Berg will be fascinated and enlightened by this recording”
“[Hartmann] makes something strongly shaped and distinctively characterised...and strength of character also distinguishes this performance by Juliane Banse and Aleksandar Madžar. [They] also find a powerfully dramatic rhetoric in the fervent, sometimes rather congested textures of Berg's early songs.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.