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Thread: Do you like Hugo Wolf?

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    Default Do you like Hugo Wolf?

    I almost never got this guy and all the hype about the "sui generis" of his lieder. As an admirer of the Schubert-Schumann-Brahms lieder tradition, when I first listened to Wolf, I was extremely put off by his uncanny, meandering melodies and dense textures.

    Not until I bought this recital that my mind was opened to his genius (admittedly it was partly because I was a huge fan of Schwarzkopf and Furtwangler).


    There are certain intriguing, subtle and fleeting "moods" that only he can evoked. His late musics are almost quasi-impressionistic.

    What do you think about him? What are your favorite lieder recitals? So far, only Elisabeth Schwarzkopf creates the magic for me.
    Last edited by silentio; Jan-22-2017 at 06:03.

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    Depends on my mood , once / twice a month well be enough for me.

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    it depends. I like some of his songs, but I wouldn't dedicate my day to listening to only music of Hugo Wolf
    Man muss das Leben tanzen

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    One of those composers that should be right up my alley in theory, but who I can easily do without altogether in practice.

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    What do I think about Wolf? There are loads of informed opinions out there - such as those of Eric Sams ("The Songs of Hugo Wolf"). This just me and I think:

    That the poems Wolf set were generally of a consistently higher standard than those chosen by other song composers I can think of.

    That he had a profound understanding of and respect for his texts - never sacrificing them in any way (such as by placing a stress on an insignificant syllable) for the sake his music.

    That he had wide interests and an astonishing range - there are songs full of spirituality, hilarity, nature, myth, mystery, drama, despair.... and eroticism.

    That Wolf sometimes sets poems phrase by phrase - squandering enough melodic and rhythmic invention on one long poem to have lasted many a songwriter through half a song cycle. Sometimes, on a long commute, I've been able to pass the time just thinking about one particular song.

    For these reasons, I think some sort of a grasp on the German language is necessary. More essential is a love of poetry.

    Here are just four songs to show something of Wolf's range and some of his best interpreters (the words of Und willst du deinem Liebsten sterben sehen are missing but can easily be found. I liked this version.













    Sorry for such a long post (I could have gone on forever).

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    Quote Originally Posted by jenspen View Post
    What do I think about Wolf? There are loads of informed opinions out there - such as those of Eric Sams ("The Songs of Hugo Wolf"). This just me and I think:

    That the poems Wolf set were generally of a consistently higher standard than those chosen by other song composers I can think of.

    That he had a profound understanding of and respect for his texts - never sacrificing them in any way (such as by placing a stress on an insignificant syllable) for the sake his music.

    That he had wide interests and an astonishing range - there are songs full of spirituality, hilarity, nature, myth, mystery, drama, despair.... and eroticism.

    That Wolf sometimes sets poems phrase by phrase - squandering enough melodic and rhythmic invention on one long poem to have lasted many a songwriter through half a song cycle. Sometimes, on a long commute, I've been able to pass the time just thinking about one particular song.

    For these reasons, I think some sort of a grasp on the German language is necessary. More essential is a love of poetry.

    Here are just four songs to show something of Wolf's range and some of his best interpreters (the words of Und willst du deinem Liebsten sterben sehen are missing but can easily be found. I liked this version.


    Sorry for such a long post (I could have gone on forever).
    Thank you for the sharing. And please, go on forever! I appreciate your insights about Wolf. The samples are also well selected. He is a multifaceted artist.

    Btw, Der Feuerreiter is hair raising!

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    Very fine songs,I like them, very much.

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    This is the recital I am talking about:



    Im Fruhling never fails to get me. This is not an innocuous, revitalizing spring often portrayed by other composers, but it is filled with many complex shades of emotion. It was best summed up in these lines:

    "Ich sehne mich, und weiß nicht recht, nach was:
    Halb ist es Lust, halb ist es Klage;
    Mein Herz, o sage,
    Was webst du für Erinnerung
    In golden grünen Zweige Dämmerung?
    -- Alte unnennbare Tage!

    I ponder this and ponder that,
    I am yearning, but I do not really know for what:
    It is half rapture, half lamenting;
    My heart, oh tell,
    What sort of memories are you weaving
    In the golden-green gloaming of the branches?
    -- Ancient, inexpressible days!"


    (translation from http://www.lieder.net/)
    Last edited by silentio; Jan-22-2017 at 20:03.

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I have a box set which I haven't listened to yet. Will have to get to it soon.
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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    Quote Originally Posted by silentio View Post
    This is the recital I am talking about:



    Im Fruhling never fails to get me. This is not an innocuous, revitalizing spring often portrayed by other composers, but it is filled with many complex shades of emotion. It was best summed up in these lines:

    "Ich sehne mich, und weiß nicht recht, nach was:
    Halb ist es Lust, halb ist es Klage;
    Mein Herz, o sage,
    Was webst du für Erinnerung
    In golden grünen Zweige Dämmerung?
    -- Alte unnennbare Tage!

    I ponder this and ponder that,
    I am yearning, but I do not really know for what:
    It is half rapture, half lamenting;
    My heart, oh tell,
    What sort of memories are you weaving
    In the golden-green gloaming of the branches?
    -- Ancient, inexpressible days!"


    (translation from http://www.lieder.net/)
    Ancient, inexpressible days indeed!

    A marvellous recital. It includes "Anakreons Grab" (to words by Goethe) which I'd recommend to a newcomer as one of the most beautiful and approachable of Wolf's songs.

    Have you heard Schwarzkopf sing Goethe's "Kennst du das Land" in the Wolf setting? I've only had a bit of a listen to Schubert and Schumann but Wolf seems to capture all that is richest and rarest (and most intense) about that great poem.


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    Senior Member Barbebleu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentio View Post
    I almost never got this guy and all the hype about the "sui generis" of his lieder. As an admirer of the Schubert-Schumann-Brahms lieder tradition, when I first listened to Wolf, I was extremely put off by his uncanny, meandering melodies and dense textures.

    Not until I bought this recital that my mind was opened to his genius (admittedly it was partly because I was a huge fan of Schwarzkopf and Furtwangler).


    There are certain intriguing, subtle and fleeting "moods" that only he can evoked. His late musics are almost quasi-impressionistic.

    What do you think about him? What are your favorite lieder recitals? So far, only Elisabeth Schwarzkopf creates the magic for me.
    Very serendipitous post as I am working my way through this at the moment. Fantastic songs and some brilliant interpretations.

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    Just dug out my 8 CD H.W. Anniversary Edition. An embarrassment of riches in this set.

    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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    Quote Originally Posted by jenspen View Post
    Ancient, inexpressible days indeed!

    A marvellous recital. It includes "Anakreons Grab" (to words by Goethe) which I'd recommend to a newcomer as one of the most beautiful and approachable of Wolf's songs.

    Have you heard Schwarzkopf sing Goethe's "Kennst du das Land" in the Wolf setting? I've only had a bit of a listen to Schubert and Schumann but Wolf seems to capture all that is richest and rarest (and most intense) about that great poem.

    Yes, one of my most favorite. Those "Dahin!" are haunting.

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    ^Barbebleu and starthrower, since you have the big set, who are your favorite male interpreters of Wolf ?

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    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I've only listened to the first disc featuring Olaf Bar, and I think he's very fine!
    "In the beginning there was noise. And the noise begat rhythm. And the rhythm begat everything else." - Mickey Hart

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