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Who's Afraid of Hugo Wolf?

Iain Burnside traces the life and work of lieder writer Hugo Wolf. While his songs are considered humourless, dense and difficult, close listening may reveal a different verdict.

Hugo Wolf's reputation is for humourless, dense, difficult songs.Yet, when you listen to them, a different story emerges. They can be biting or tender, funny or sad, erotic or esoteric - but always as immediately appealing as those by Schubert or Schumann. How did Wolf gain such a mistaken reputation?

With performances of Wolf songs from Fischer-Dieskau, Elly Ameling, Ian Bostridge and Barbra Streisand amongst others, pianist and lieder-lover Iain Burnside traces Wolf's life and aims as a composer. In his quest to set the Wolf record straight, he is joined by fellow Wolf enthusiasts: Dr Susan Youens and Dr Amanda Glauert, the pianist Graham Johnson, and Jeremy Sams, whose father was the eminent Wolf scholar, Eric Sams.

Iain discovers how Wolf's sense of humour based on caricature and derision made him as many friends as enemies; how Wagner was both an ardent inspiration and a curse on Wolf's career; how Bizet's opera Carmen brought a new clarity of vision to Wolf's late song collections; and how the richnesses & sophistication of Wolf recordings past may be inhibiting our appreciation of Wolf today.

45 minutes

Music Played

  • Hugo Wolf

    Auch kleine Dinge (Italienisches Liederbuch)

    Performers: Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)

    • HYPERION CDA66760.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Der Gartner (Morike Lieder)

    Performers: Werner Gura (tenor), Jan Schultsz (piano)

    • Harmonia Mundi HMC 901882.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Erstes Liebeslied eines Madchens (Morike Lieder)

    Performers: Arleen Auger (soprano), Irwin Gage (piano)

    • HYPERION CDA66590.
  • Hugo Wolf

    An den Schlaf (Morike Lieder)

    Performers: Ian Bostridge (tenor), Antonio Pappano (tenor)

    • EMI 342256-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Prometheus (Goethe lieder)

    Performers: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

    • EMI 562188-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Zur Warnung (Morike Lieder)

    Performers: Stephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)

    • HYPERION CDA 67311/2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Abschied (Morike Lieder)

    Performers: Stephan Genz (baritone), Roger Vignoles (piano)

    • HYPERION CDA 67311/2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    In der Fruhe (Morike Lieder)

    Performers: Werner Gura (tenor), Jan Schultsz (piano)

    • Harmonia Mundi HMC 901882.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Sagt, seid Ihr es, feiner Herr (Spanisches Liederbuch)

    Performers: Anne Sophie von Otter (mezzo-soprano), Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

    • EMI CDS 555325-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Herr, was tragt der Boden hier (Spanisches Liederbuch)

    Performers: Olaf Bar (baritone), Geoffrey Parsons (piano)

    • EMI CDS 555325-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Geh', Geliebter, geh' jetzt! (Spanisches Liederbuch)

    Performers: Elizabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano), Gerald Moore (piano)

    • EMI 565749-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Gesegnet sei das Grun (Italienisches Liederbuch)

    Performers: Elly Ameling, Dalton Baldwin

    • PHILIPS 442 744-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Verschwiegene Liebe (Eichendorff Lieder)

    Performers: Barbra Streisand (voice) Claus Ogerman (piano)

    • SONY SK33452.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Alles endet, was entstehet (Michelangelo Lieder)

    Performers: Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone), Gerald Moore (piano)

    • EMI 562188-2.
  • Hugo Wolf

    Auch kleine Dinge (Italienisches Liederbuch)

    Performers: Felicity Lott (soprano), Graham Johnson (piano)

    • HYPERION CDA66760..

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