Sunday, May 29, 2011

Discovering Carl Loewe

One of the more interesting features of the Great EMI Recordings box for Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau is the opportunity to provides to get to know the songs of Carl Loewe.  There are only five included in the collection, recorded over a series of sessions in September of 1967.  However, Loewe made his mark on the history of music, even if that mark was not established until after his death in 1869.

I first encountered Loewe in a recital that Eugene Brancoveneau gave in May of 2010.  He decided to couple the familiar setting of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Erlkönig” by Franz Schubert with one of the same take by Loewe.  What makes the latter significant emerged in the report I wrote of this concert for

While the Schubert setting is the more familiar (if not the most familiar of his songs), Loewe's is particularly enlightening when we realize that Gustav Mahler studied his work scrupulously before undertaking any of his own song settings.  Thus, the attentive listener will not be surprised to find that the opening gesture of Loewe's setting provides a tantalizing foretaste of "Ich hab' ein glühend Messer" from the Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen;  and the overall rhetoric of the setting anticipates many of Mahler's Wunderhorn songs.

I had the good fortune to chat a bit with Brancoveanu after I had filed this report and mentioned this bit of influence that spanned about half a century.  Brancoveanu accepted the possible validity of the hypothesis, and further support can be found for it in the other Loewe selection in the EMI collection.

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