ALBUM 2: Hanneli Rupert

Hanneli performs with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Bernhard Gueller. She sings Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Rückert-Lieder, and Wagner’s Wesendonck-Lieder.

Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911)

Orchestral Lieder from texts by Friedrich Rückert.

Gustav Mahler set a total of ten poems by the German Romantic poet, Friedrich Rückert, to music as orchestral Lieder. A cycle of five of these poems is known as the Kindertotenlieder and the remaining cycle as the Rückert-Lieder. Both cycles were composed in Vienna, from 1901 to 1904.
These two ethereal Lieder cycles, with their soulful Rückert texts, document the yearning to withdraw from the clamorous world. Escape from this world of love and grief is the underlying motif.

Following the death of his two children, Friedrich Rückert penned over 400 poems as Kindertotenlieder. It is often assumed that Mahler’s reason for setting five of these poems to music was related to the death of his own children. However, when Mahler began working on the cycle he was unmarried, and only on completion of the cycle, in 1904, he was the father of two children. The true reason is that he experienced the death of several brothers and sisters in the home of his childhood – an understandable cause for his being so moved by the lyrical elegies of the Romantic, Rückert.

Of the ten poems by Rückert, five are known as the Rückert-Lieder. It is a song cycle of Lieder for voice and orchestra or piano. The first four songs were premiered in Vienna in 1905, Mahler conducting himself. The set of songs is not a cycle in the narrowest sense, because the Lieder are independent, connected only by the poetry and common themes. However, they were published together and have, most often, been performed together and have come to be known as the Rückert-Lieder.

Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883): Fünf Gedichte für eine Singstimme

(the so-called Wesendonck-Lieder, from texts by Mathilde Wesendonck)

Wagner composed the five so-called Wesendonck-Lieder between November 1857 and May 1858, during a period of inner development and introspection as an artist.
When he was forced to leave Saxony in 1849, he eventually settled in Zürich. In April 1857, he and his family moved into a small house adjacent to the villa of the family Wesendonck, placed at their disposal by Wagner’s friend Otto Wesendonck. There, Wagner entered into an affair with his benefactor’s wife, Mathilde Wesendonck.
What led to the composition of the Fünf Gedichte für eine Singstimme was, partly, the fact that Wagner’s affair with Mathilde was doomed and had no future. For that matter, Mathilde’s narrative of the origins of the Lieder points to the strong attraction between Wagner and herself and, especially, the sorrow of unavoidable parting.
The Lieder were originally composed for voice and piano.
– Reiner Otterman (edited)