Christian Immler / Helmut Deutsch

Modern Times

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

German baritone Christian Immler is accompanied by the equally wonderful Helmut Deutsch on piano in this unique album of pieces by late 19th and early 20th century composers, with an emphasis on Jewish composers. The result is a program of songs of varied tonalities and moods that take the listener on an interesting musical journey. Consistent throughout the album is Immler's fine technique: a dark, clean baritone that never breaks or falters, though it on rare occasion pulls back. There is great feeling, too, as one can hear from the opening track, "Das feurige Männlein," by Schrecker. His diction is clear and the music agitated. Gál's "Drei Prinzessinnen" demonstrates the chemistry the pianist and baritone have together, as they create a delicious atmosphere of darkness and doom. Immler can carry his voice effortlessly up to high notes, as in "Abend auf dem Fluss." Here, the atmosphere is set by Deutsch's flowing river; Deutsch is to be credited well for his ability to set the tone of each piece, be it agitated, calm, melancholy, or jazzy. Eisler's "Philantropisch" creates a sense of tension through its ragged melody, and Immler hooks into the emotion of the song with ease. But it is in the second set of Eisler songs that Immler and Deutsch show off some of their best work, especially in the militaristic "Ballade von der Krüppelgarde," with its power chords, jazz-like feel, and clearly distinguished characters. Immler certainly has a talent for committing to characters. This is also evident in the album highlights of Zemlinsky's "Afrikanischer Tanz" (with its delightful rolled Rs) and the cabaret-like Grosz songs, which Immler tosses off with great ease, fun, and feeling. He sings with relish, and this is most inviting to the listener. The only songs where Immler is not as successful are Korngold's English language pieces based on Shakespeare texts. The difficulty here is the English pronunciation, as one can hear on vowels like "o" or on diphthongs. This is disappointing, for Immler convincingly conveys the spirit, the rhythms, and the sense of mirth. Regardless, there is plenty of enjoyable material here, and Immler is an artist who goes beyond the music and into the emotions.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 1:29
2 1:31
Fünf Melodien, Op. 33
3 2:12
4 1:33
5 3:38
6 2:49
7 2:10
Zwei Lieder von Christian Morgenstern, Op. 27
8 1:06
9 2:00
Galgenlieder von Christian Morgenstern
10 2:41
11 0:43
12 2:21
Songs of the Clown, Op. 29
13 1:48
14 2:05
15 0:53
16 0:49
17 3:17
12 Lieder, Op. 27
18 1:15
19 2:05
20 0:54
21 1:01
Balladenbuch, Op. 18
22 3:56
23 4:14
Bänkel und Balladen, Op. 31
24 3:16
25 6:21
26 4:17
27 5:06
blue highlight denotes track pick