A Recent Recording of Unheard Lieder

It’s always a great day here when we learn of a new recording of previously unheard Beethoven works. A 5-CD release of Beethoven’s complete lieder for voice and piano on the Thorofon label, CTH 2601/5 Saemtliche Lieder adds a great many new Beethoven songs to the recorded canon.

Thorofon CD Lieder

These songs have to our knowledge never been recorded at all before, but are included on this set:

* The first version of Gretels Warnung, which would become op.75/4;
* The first version of An den fernen Geliebten, published by Artaria, which would become op.75/5, which features a longer vocal line and a shorter piano postlude;
* The first version of Klage, WoO 113;
* The first version of In questa tomba oscura, WoO 133;
* The first version of Lied aus der Ferne, which would be WoO 137, but which was set to the music of WoO 138, Der Juengling in der Fremde;
* All three versions of An die Geliebte WoO 140 for voice and piano (sadly the guitar version remains unrecorded);
* Both versions of Klaerchen’s Lied from Egmont, Freudvoll und Leidvoll for piano in A, Hess 93;
* The first version of Dimmi ben mio, Hess 140, which would become op.82/1;
* The first version of Wonne der Wehmut, Hess 142, which would become op.83/1; and
* The first version of Feuerfarb’ Hess 144, which would become op.52/2.

That’s at least 11 world premiere recordings of Beethoven compositions. But that’s not all!

It has long annoyed us that quite a few of the supposedly “Complete Lieder” collections managed to record only selected verses of a number of Beethoven’s songs, resulting in mutilated and abbreviated pieces that lack the coherence and impact of the full poems. Even if the poem was set as a strophic song, it deserves to be performed complete to give the message appropriately.

The following songs are recorded complete for the very first time:
* WoO 117, Der freie Mann (not only does it include the 7 verses contained in the Gesamtausgabe, but also includes the three politically sensitive verses that were suppressed by the publisher, but certainly would have appealed to Beethoven’s political beliefs;
* WoO 121, Abschiedsgesang an Wiens Buerger, all 6 verses are heard for the first time;
* WoO 138, Der Juengling in der Fremde, all 6 verses are heard for the first time; and
* WoO 148, So oder so, all 6 verses in the Gesamtausgabe are included, as well as the suppressed verse 3 which states “Servant or master! Kings are servants too.”

Finally, the very-rarely heard complete version of Der Bardengeist, WoO 142 is included. Unfortunately, Que le temps me dure, WoO 116 is not included in either its C major version (which has never been recorded complete) or its C minor version. Nor is Erlkoenig, WoO 131, since the producers appeared to draw the line at incomplete lieder. And Liebe, Hess 137, was apparently discovered after these recordings were made, but since it is also an incomplete sketch probably would not have qualified either. Nevertheless, this CD set is a revelation and one of the biggest pieces of recorded Beethoven news since the Brilliant Classics set included the complete WoO 99 vocal part exercises and Tobias Koch recorded the pieces WoO 51 using the orphica.

The principal performers are Constantin Graf von Walderdorff (bass-baritone) and Heidi Brunner (mezzo), with Kristin Okerlund on piano. When a chorus is called for on a number of these pieces, the Gustav Mahler Chor Wien fills in. Highly recommended!