Here's a lost musical form if ever there was one: songs for male chorus. While the form was explored in the early nineteenth century by Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Schumann, among others, it had fallen into disuse by the middle of the century, nearly vanished by the end of the century, and became virtually forgotten by the early twentieth. The main reason for its disappearance was that the ensemble for which it was intended had disappeared. German men, who had once loved going down to the village bar and to drink themselves into a stupor while singing choral drinking songs, had found other ways to amuse themselves. But, in their day, songs for male chorus, while surely not a threat to the aesthetic hegemony of solo songs, were a popular form, and its almost complete disappearance is a small but palpable aesthetic loss.
This disc by the Neue Detmolder Liedertafel directed by Thorsten Roth goes some small way toward redressing that loss. With a rich tone and a superlative ensemble, the Liedertafel's singing is beyond reproach, and, as guided by Roth, its interpretations are affectionate and enthusiastic. All the songs on this disc are heartwarming, especially the Ritornelle on poems by Friedrich Rückert, but most appealing to the initiated may be five Jagdlieder of Heinrich Laube, the only songs on the disc with accompaniment. And what an accompaniment: four horns, masterfully played by the Detmolder Hornisten, evoking the joys and mysteries of the hunt and the forest. Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm's sound is, as it always is, absolutely real.