Romantic Swiss Song
Guild GMCD 7237

LOUISE INNES - mezzo-soprano
DDD 53.42
Recorded : St Paul’s School,London
13-15 April 2001

Robert Freund (1852-1936)
Five Songs op. 4 - Fünf Lieder op. 4
01 I Der schwere Abend (Lenau) William Coleman [2:02]
02 II "Nun die Schatten dunkeln" (Geibel) Peter van Hulle [1:41]
03 III "Viel Vögel sind geflogen" (Hammerling) Peter van Hulle [0:53]
04 IV Frage nicht (Lenau) William Coleman [1:51]
05 V Blick in den Strom (Lenau) William Coleman [2:12]
Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957)
06 Das Fräulein am Meere (Heine) Peter van Hulle [0:51]
07   Perlen (Anon.) Peter van Hulle [1:01]
08 Gefunden (Goethe) Peter van Hulle [1:01]
Paul Kletzki (1900-1973)
Four Songs op. 2 - Vier Lieder op. 2
09 I Nebel (Lenau) William Coleman [2:13]
10 II Trost (Storm) Louise Innes [0:56]
11 III Schliesse mir die Augen beide (Storm) Louise Innes [1:48]
12 IV Bitte (Lenau) William Coleman [1:44]
Night Songs op. 3 - Nachtgesänge op. 3
13 I Nachts (Eichendorff) Louise Innes [3:03]
14 II Nacht für Nacht (Dehmel) Louise Innes [2:48]
15 III Winternacht (Lenau) William Coleman [1:22]
Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957)
16 Vergangenheit (Lenau) William Coleman [1:15]
17 Stummer Abschied (Anon.) William Coleman [0:53]
18 Lebewohl! (Lenau) William Coleman [2: 00]
19 Volkslied ( Anon.) Peter van Hulle [2:39]
20 Kinderliedchen ( Anon.) Peter van Hulle [0:46]
21 Schlaf’ ein, lieb Kind (Anon.) Louise Innes [3:34]
Robert Bosshart (1899-1937)
22 Bitte (Bosshart) William Coleman [2:08]
23 Ewige Sehnsucht (aus Einsame Insel) (Bosshart) William Coleman [2:32]
Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
24 Mond am Tage op. 12 Nr. 1 Peter van Hulle [2:03]
25 Der Schmied op. 12 Nr. 3 Peter van Hulle [2:03]
26 Requiem op. 10 Nr. 1 William Coleman [2:25]
27 Alte Schweizer op. 12 Nr. 2 William Coleman [4:53]

This CD documents the progress of the German Romantic song from the post-Schumann era to a Straussian early Modernism, but does it in a somewhat unusual manner: none of the composers represented here is German. Othmar Schoeck, Robert Bosshart and Volkmar Andreae were all Swiss; Robert Freund was Hungarian; and Paul Kletzki Polish.

Robert Freund, the oldest composer represented here, was born in Budapest in 1852, and studied with Ignaz Moscheles, Carl Tausig and Franz Liszt. He moved to Zurich in 1876 to teach at the new Conservatory, later numbering Othmar Schoeck among his pupils. His compositional oeuvre is small, and his works themselves small-scale. Despite Freund’s association with Liszt and his admiration for Wagner, the songs recorded here display more his fondness for the tradition of Schumann and Brahms; with the latter and a few mutual friends, he even went on a summer holiday to Italy in the late 1880s. It is interesting, though probably purely coincidental, that two of the poems set by Freund in his op. 4 (Der schwere Abend and Blick in den Strom) were later set by his pupil Schoeck in his Notturno op. 47.

The songs by Schoeck on this CD were all written before he turned 20 years of age. They are in form and harmony straightforward – most of them are hardly more advanced than early Schumann in this regard – but they already display Schoeck’s remarkable melodic gifts to the full. He presumably found them lacking in maturity when he came to choose what to publish in his first volumes of songs, and so left these in manuscript. But he was too harsh on himself by far. These are remarkably fresh in their inspiration, and deserve a place in the repertoire no less than his other songs of this period.

Schoeck’s friend Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962) is remembered primarily as having been the conductor of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra for over four decades, and one of the city’s most formidable music administrators (he ran the local Conservatory for 25 years). Andreae’s conducting and managerial careers have hitherto largely obscured the fact that he was also one of Switzerland’s most gifted composers. The biggest influence in his early music (despite the allusions to Wagner’s Siegfried in his blacksmith’s song Der Schmied) is that of Richard Strauss. However, as the songs recorded here testify, Andreae rapidly developed an individual voice. Besides lieder, his oeuvre includes chamber music, many works for choir, and two operas, the last of which – The Adventures of Casanova – was premièred in the Dresden State Opera in 1924. It is to be regretted that Andreae composed less and less as he grew older.

Robert Bosshart (1899-1937) must count as one of the most enigmatic figures in Swiss musical history. He was born and educated in Zurich, published his first book of poems when hardly out of school, became a staff conductor and stage director at the Dresden State Opera in his mid-20s, and then, after marrying a wealthy German-American opera singer, retired to the Ticino to devote himself to the composition of vast music dramas that no one has ever performed, nor ever will. He was a passable poet, a more than competent composer, a good librettist, and (so the few extant accounts tell) a brilliant stage director. His talents were many; but his failings on a human level would seem to have been positively prodigious. Despite his Swiss background, he took a shine to right-wing German politics, though died before they wrought their havoc on Europe. The two songs by which he is represented here – the first ever recording of his music – are firmly rooted in Straussian late-Romanticism and typical of his style.

The decision to include Bosshart on the same CD as Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) was not taken lightly, for Kletzki suffered under the same politics that Bosshart had so blindly advocated. But as almost exact contemporaries, a superficial comparison of their careers can be strangely instructive as to the vast spectrum of human experience in the first half of the 20th century. While Bosshart sat in silken underwear in his Swiss-Italian villa, dreaming dark dreams of himself as Wagner reborn in an Aryanized Germany, Kletzki was fleeing from one totalitarian regime after another. He was born in Lodz, studied in Warsaw, survived a near-miss while a soldier in the First World War, then moved to Berlin. There he enjoyed much success as a composer and conductor, but his career was cut short when he had to flee after the Nazi takeover in early 1933. After a brief stay in Venice, he took up a conducting post in the Russian provinces, where he had to watch as ever more members of the orchestra disappeared as a result of Stalin’s purges. He left to work in Milan, but then had to flee from the Italian fascists, and took refuge in Switzerland. After the Second World War, his conducting career took flight again. He was principal conductor of the Liverpool Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and was Ernest Ansermet’s successor as conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Before leaving Milan, he had hurriedly buried all his compositions in two trunks, and when Milan was bombed, he assumed that all had been lost. Presumably as a result of this shock, he stopped composing towards the end of the War. Astonishingly, the trunks arrived at his door in Switzerland in 1965 – unannounced – having been discovered during building work near La Scala. But Kletzki, convinced that all must have turned to dust, and unwilling to lose his life’s work a second time, refused to open them. Not until after his death in 1973 did his widow summon up the courage to do so, and found everything undamaged. She donated her husband’s archives to the Zentralbibliothek Zürich in 2000. The early songs recorded here display a composer who has not merely mastered the late-Romantic tonal language of Mahler and Strauss, but has already found a quite individual voice. His oeuvre contains piano music, four string quartets, three symphonies, several concerti and much else besides. Judging from the scores, the level of inspiration seems to remain remarkably high. We are confident that, as more works of Kletzki are released, he will be recognized as one of the major discoveries of the past decade.