Richard Edgar-Wilson / Yvonne Howard / Kathron Sturrock

Music for and by Fanny Hünerwadel

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AllMusic Review by

Swiss singer, pianist, and composer Fanny Hünerwadel was born in 1826 and died of typhoid fever in 1854, at age 28. The booklet notes do a nice job of introducing her, noting among other things that she practiced an early form of music therapy in an insane asylum. She was apparently very good at what would today be called networking, crossing paths with a wide variety of composers, performers, and pedagogues. The music on this album falls into three sections: 1) short works (both vocal and instrumental, with one little string quartet) written into a small album owned by Hünerwadel, 2) a set of songs by Hünerwadel herself, and 3) a group of songs dedicated to Hünerwadel by composer Wilhelm Baumgartner. The first group is the most interesting, offering little snatches of musical thought from the middle of the nineteenth century. Some of the composers are Swiss, but others came from points farther afield and range from the moderately well known (Franz Abt, Johann Wenzel Kalliwoda) to giants (Wagner and Liszt, who seem to have jotted down a few notes and left their contributions to assistants to finish). The Wagner piece, an early draft of "Zu neuen Taten, teurer Helde" from Götterdämmerung, is especially intriguing, and the Andante espressivo for violin and piano by Vieuxtemps is an unknown gem (most of the music here has never been recorded before). The songs of Hünerwadel herself are clearly the work of someone who both sang and played the piano well and thought about how to relate voice and piano in fresh ways; sample the impressively, quietly spacious Auf Berges Höhen, track 18. The final songs by Baumgartner are uninspiring, and the album is necessarily an uneven thing, but it should find a place in the library of anyone fascinated by the early Romantic period.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1 04:28
2 01:14
3 00:46
4 01:02
5 04:30
6 01:39
7 02:59
8 02:32
9 04:13
10 02:36
11 00:42
Work(s) for Violin & Piano
12 02:03
13 00:35
Die Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods), opera, WWV 86d
14 04:05
Work(s), for piano
15 01:32
16 01:32
Six Songs, for voice & piano
17 02:47
18 02:47
19 03:07
20 01:40
21 03:17
22 04:10
23 04:42
Six Short Songs, for soprano (or tenor) & piano, Op. 4
24 01:52
25 05:48
26 02:30
27 03:28
28 01:02
29 02:25
blue highlight denotes track pick