Die Singphoniker

Rheinberger: Du sonnige wonnige Welt

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German vocal sextet Die Singphoniker has made the genre of the German partsong its own, recording examples from Schubert forward through the rest of the 19th century. Some of the repertoire it has recorded was probably written with a men's choir in mind, but the partsong was a semi-popular genre, and one-to-a-part performance in social halls or living rooms was surely common enough. In that medium, you get to enjoy the group's unnamed first tenor's startling mastery over the perilously high lines in the songs here. The general neglect of the partsong repertory, a key part of German and German-American musical life in the 19th century, is nowhere more vividly shown than in the reception of the works of Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901), who wrote a good number of them. All but two pieces here are world recorded premieres, and all are delightful. Musically, Rheinberger's songs lie somewhere between Schubert's (some of which are quite unexpectedly complex) and the simplicity of Brahms' Liebeslieder Wälzer. A few of them are straight folkish strophic settings, but generally they are, though largely diatonic harmonically, full of surprising details in the texture: fake contrapuntal entrances, sudden solo remarks, etc. And it is all deployed in the service of humor. Die Singphoniker itself is apologetic about the texts of these songs in the booklet, but it needn't have been. Many of them are drinking songs, and as such they catch a certain kind of humor present almost nowhere else in the repertory (except perhaps in the partsongs from the end of Haydn's life). Sample Disputation, Op. 100, No. 3 (track 15), a hilarious German-Latin parody of a learned discussion about death. All in all, this release is a rare treat, and Carus and the Southwest German Radio deserve special kudos for the studio sound; the single piece with piano (Johannisnacht, Op. 91, track 12) completely avoids the high school gymnasium sound so commonly heard with this combination. This album, which contains publication information for the newly discovered printed music, should be in the library of every choir and glee club.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Aus Westfalen, Op. 130
1 1:59
Sieben Gesänge, Op. 185
2 2:55
Vier deutsche Gesänge, Op. 48
3 3:41
In der Zechstube, Op. 74
4 3:00
5 2:02
6 2:08
7 1:45
8 2:43
Aus dem Sängerleben, Op. 85
9 2:18
10 2:18
Seebilder. Vier Gesänge, Op. 116
11 3:13
12 5:59
Am Rhein, Op. 90
13 3:56
14 2:34
Fahrende Schüler, Op. 100
15 3:23
16 3:42
17 3:47
Aus deutschen Gauen, Op. 125
18 3:05
Aus fränkischen Landen, Op. 141
19 3:12
blue highlight denotes track pick