Joan Rodgers, Roderick Williams & Roger Vignoles



1. Wolf, Hugo [02:05]
Auch kleine Dinge konnen uns entzucken

2. Wolf, Hugo [01:42]
Was fur ein Lied soll dir gesungen werden

3. Wolf, Hugo [01:27]
Gesegnet sei durch den die Welt entstund

4. Wolf, Hugo [01:34]
Gesegnet sei das Grun

5. Wolf, Hugo [02:44]
Und Steht Ihr fruh am Morgen auf

6. Wolf, Hugo [01:34]
Mein Liebster ist so klein

7. Wolf, Hugo [01:16]
Ihr jungen Leute

8. Wolf, Hugo [01:41]
Ich esse nun mein Brot nicht trocken mehr

9. Wolf, Hugo [01:50]
Schon streckt ich aus imm Bett die muden Glieder

10. Wolf, Hugo [01:29]
Mein Liebster singt

11. Wolf, Hugo [01:18]
Ein Standchen Euch zu bringen

12. Wolf, Hugo [02:14]
Geselle woll'n wir uns in Kutten hullen

13. Wolf, Hugo [02:25]
Wie lange schon war immer mei Verlangen

14. Wolf, Hugo [02:08]
Und willst du deinen Liebsten sterben sehen

15. Wolf, Hugo [01:04]
Du denkst mit einem Fadchen mich zu fangen

16. Wolf, Hugo [0:44]
Hoffartig seid Ihr schones Kind

17. Wolf, Hugo [01:10]
Du sagst mir das ich keine Furstin sei

18. Wolf, Hugo [0:46]
Nein junger Herr

19. Wolf, Hugo [02:00]
Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag erhoben

20. Wolf, Hugo [01:35]
O war dein Haus durchsichtig wie ein Glas

21. Wolf, Hugo [02:36]
Sterb ich so hullt in Blumen meine Glieder

22. Wolf, Hugo [01:38]
Wie soll ich frohlich sein

23. Wolf, Hugo [01:44]
Wenn du mich mit den Augen streifst

24. Wolf, Hugo [01:56]
Wohl kenn ich Euren Stand

25. Wolf, Hugo [01:24]
Lass sie nur gehn

26. Wolf, Hugo [01:50]
Heb auf dein blondes Haupt

27. Wolf, Hugo [01:47]
Mir ward gesagt du reisest in die Ferne

28. Wolf, Hugo [01:41]
Ihr seid die Allerschonste

29. Wolf, Hugo [02:00]
Dass doch gemalt all deine Reize waren

30. Wolf, Hugo [01:42]
Wenn do mein Liebster steigst zum Himmel auf

31. Wolf, Hugo [0:59]
Man sagt mir deine Mutter woll es nicht

32. Wolf, Hugo [01:49]
Heut Nacht erhob ich mich

33. Wolf, Hugo [03:50]
Benedict die sel ge Mutter

34. Wolf, Hugo [0:55]
Mein Liebster hat zu Tische mich geladen

35. Wolf, Hugo [01:58]
Ich lies mir sagen

36. Wolf, Hugo [01:07]
Wer rief dich denn?

37. Wolf, Hugo [01:28]
Was soll der Zorn mein Schatz

38. Wolf, Hugo [01:51]
Nun lass uns Frieden schliessen

39. Wolf, Hugo [01:14]
Nicht langer kann ich singen

40. Wolf, Hugo [01:01]
Schweig einmal still

41. Wolf, Hugo [01:19]
O wusstest du wie viel ich deinetwegen

43. Wolf, Hugo [02:02]
Selig ihr Blinden

44. Wolf, Hugo [02:14]
Wir haben Beide lange Zeit geschwiegen

45. Wolf, Hugo [01:43]
Wie viele Zeit verlor ich

46. Wolf, Hugo [01:04]
Ich hab in Penna einen Liebsten wohnen

Joan Rodgers,
Roderick Williams,
Roger Vignoles,

RPS award-winning soprano Joan Rogers is joined for Wolf�s Italian Songbook by acclaimed baritone Roderick Williams, with Roger Vignoles at the piano.

This new recording for Champs Hill Records was made shortly after their recital at Wigmore Hall, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, in April 2012. �Each of the three brought sensitivity and experience to the poetry at their command, the end result being a performance of much beauty, feeling, and�most welcomely for this repertoire�joy.� Opera Britannia

Self-critical of being master of �only a small-�‐scale genre� Hugo Wolf made carefully structured collections of his songs, each a tiny drama in music. It means that his Songbooks are much more than a random collections and, as with The Italian Songbook, they represent his attempt to make something more substantial, to tell a bigger story, to create a kind of �compressed opera�.

Wolf, who died in 1903 following a period of insanity brought on by syphilis, described The Italian Songbook - his last major work - as �the most original and perfect of my compositions�.

Wolf sets his Italian texts, in German translation, with extraordinary wit and perception � in �Mein Liebster hat zu Tische mich geladen� (My sweetheart invited me to dinner), the piano accompaniment reflects the very poor meal, right down to the accents representing the chopping of very stale bread. �Mein liebster singt� (My sweetheart is singing outside the house) incorporates the lover�s serenade in the piano part � a music sounds like a Chopin Mazurka.




The name of Hugo Wolf (1860-1903) is not as well known to concert audiences as those of Schubert, Schumann or Brahms, but as a composer of German Lieder he ranks as high as any of them. In a relatively short composing career he composed 242 songs which include some of the greatest masterpieces in the genre.

Unlike other composers, Wolf almost never wrote single songs. Instead he preferred to immerse himself in the work of an individual poet, developing a musical idiom that perfectly fitted the texts, and eventually publishing an entire songbook at one go. Having in this way produced substantial collections of songs to classic poems by M�erike, Eichendorff and Goethe, his last two songbooks took a very different turn, towards the poetry of the South - first to Spain, and finally to Italy, and the Italienisches Liederbuch, translated by Paul Heyse.

Based on the traditional Italian forms of the Tuscan rispetto and its Venetian equivalent the vilota, these graceful German adaptations play directly to Wolf�s strengths as a composer - brevity, wit, precise characterisation, and the translation of realistic speech into musical terms. What indeed shines through these forty-six tiny gems - most barely covering two pages of print, and several taking less than a minute to perform - is the unique sense of hearing real people speaking to each other. These are not generalised love songs addressed to an idealised beloved, but the exchanges of flesh-and-blood lovers, in which they not only declare their love, but tease, taunt, reproach, quarrel, make up again and generally negotiate their way through barriers of social inequality or family disapproval. Wolf composed the collection in two halves; the first twenty-two between September 1890 and December 1891, the other 24 in a sustained creative burst of barely a month, from 25 March to 30 April 1896. Although there is logic to his grouping of the songs for publication, it is left for performers to decide whether to follow his order or - as in tonight�s recital - to create their own sequence.

Rispetti have their roots in the poetry of the Renaissance, and they owe their vitality to the teeming populace of the Italian city states. Tiny billets doux that could be easily passed from hand to hand, their typical form is of eight lines, in which the first couplet introduces an idea, the next four lines develop it, and the final couplet wraps it up in an elegant conclusion. The punch-line may by turns be witty, defiant, self- deprecating or unexpected, but in almost every case the poem presents a carefully constructed case. The very first song of the collection, Auch kleine Dinge, is a perfect example, with its list of small things that we delight in: pearls, olives and - with an air of clinching the argument for good - the rose. (It also provides Wolf with the perfect motto for this collection of small songs). Such lists abound, as in Gesegnet
sei, durch den die Welt entstund, in which the singer praises God for creating not only the universe but also his beloved�s face; or in Gesegnet sei das Gr�n, which praises all manifestations of the colour green. In Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag� erhoben, the poem actually seems to be pursuing a lawsuit, as the Moon complains to the court of Heaven that the loved one�s eyes have deprived him of two of his loveliest stars. It is, like so many of the Italian Songbook songs, a perfect example of Wolf�s genius in developing an entire song from a single musical motif. A series of descending phrases in thirds, at first stiff with indignation, gradually unbends, until the final line is delivered in a hush of adoration - �your two eyes, that have dazzled me�. Many of the most beautiful and rapt love songs in the collection are similarly created from a single idea in the piano part, corresponding to the poetic image: Und willst du deinen Liebsten sterben sehen for instance is accompanied by a kaleidoscope of arpeggiated chords evocative of the lover running his hands through his mistress�s hair, while in O w�r dein Haus durchsichtig wie ein Glas the piano�s delicate repeated notes suggest both the transparency of glass and the raindrops to which the girl likens the thousands of glances that she would like to despatch in her beloved�s direction.

In keeping with their Renaissance setting, many of these poems, like the plays of Shakespeare, reflect the omnipresence of religion in their protagonists� life, often colouring their language if not their behaviour. In these pages heavenly and earthly love rub shoulders easily, though with a natural bias towards the latter, as in Wie viele Zeit verlor� ich, with its rueful admission that by loving his mistress more than God, he has probably missed his chance of entering Paradise. In one of the loveliest songs a lover takes delight in his lady going to mass (Und steht Ihr fr�h am Morgen auf) - Wolf�s music evokes the hum of bells - while in another, a girl tells her lover that when he reaches Heaven, God will make one heart out of their two (Wenn du, mein Liebster, steigst zum Himmel auf). Elsewhere we are reminded of Italian architecture, when a lover compares his lady�s beauty to the Cathedral of Siena (Ihr seid die Allersch�nste weit und breit), while in Dass doch gemalt all deine Reize waren he wittily declares that her portrait alone could convert the entire heathen world to Christianity. It is also worth noting that religion plays a part, if only by allusion, in two of the most intense songs of the collection. Selig Ihr Blinden is a perverse echo of the Beatitudes, in which the lover praises those who are prevented by blindness, deafness, dumbness, or - best of all - death from sharing his sufferings. Of this Wolf creates a solemn hymn, whose beauty paradoxically increases with the bitterness of the text. By contrast, Benedeit die sel�ge Mutter obliquely praises the beloved by heaping praise on the mother that bore her. Here the similarity to a hymn to the Mother of God cannot be accidental.

Like its predecessor the Spanish Songbook, the Italian Songbook is remarkable for its portrayal of women. On the whole the Lieder repertoire is dominated by male voices, its Gretchens, Mignons and Suleikas being few and far between. So it is particularly welcome here to find the honours divided equally between the sexes. If the girl is generally capable of giving as good as she gets - there are few more perfect put- downs than Du denkst mit einem F�dchen or Nein, junger Herr - Wolf delineates all her other moods with equally acute insight. In many cases indeed his musical setting reveals more than the original text implies. In Wer rief dich denn? for instance, the words �Wer hat dich herbestellt?� (�Who asked you here?�) are at first given an indignant, upward inflection. But at the end of the song, they are drawn out in a long falling phrase, suggesting the tears that she only just manages to blink away before dismissing her lover in the emphatic postlude.

Roger Vignoles

"Issued on the Champs Hill label it gives much delight and shows that little things really can mean a lot."

"Both singers are wonderfully alert to Wolf's song and both can turn on a pin when it comes to emotions."

Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill

"Both Joan Rodgers and Roderick Williams have an excellent feel for the structures and verbal rhythms..."
"Roger Vignoles�s playing... supportive and offering strong guidance�is beyond reproach."
Opera News

" Their performance is exceptionally good... Rogers has a rich voice with a mezzo quality... Roderick Williams is a wonderful lyric baritone whose exquisite shaping of phrases with skilled use of dynamics contributes to making this a first-rate reading."
" ...you really can�t go wrong with this one from Champs Hill."
American Record Guide

“With his easy, mellow baritone and unaffected directness, Williams is profoundly moving in Wolf’s most eloquent love songs.”

“The sound is excellent and full marks also for the inclusion of full texts with English translations.”
MusicWeb International


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