Anna Lucia Richter | Michael Gees


Format: CD
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917268720
Catnr: CC 72687
Release date: 17 November 2015
1 CD
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72687
Release date
17 November 2015

"(...)  really feel a symbiosis with Michael and with the audience (...)"

Luister, 01-12-2016

About the album

“But if there is such a thing as a sense of reality – and no one will doubt that is has its raison d’être – then there must also be something that one can call a sense of possibility. Anyone possessing it does not say, for instance: Here this or that has happened, will happen, must happen. He uses his imagination and says: Here such and such might, should or ought to happen. And if he is told that something is the way it is, then he thinks: Well, it could probably just as easily be some other way. So the sense of possibility might be defined outright as the capacity to think how everything could ‘just as easily’ be, and to attach no more importance to what is than to what is not.” (from: Robert Musil, The man without qualities. Translated by Eithne Wilkins and Ernst Kaiser)

What is improvisation? In large part, if not indeed predominantly, a sense of possibility: that a song is sleeping in all things. And faith in the inexhaustible richness of manifestation and proliferation. And courage not merely to repeat the tried and true, but to return to it, perhaps to acknowledge, even be shocked by, its continuing newness. And trust. We can already make a beginning with what we can offer each other in atmosphere and motive, and recognise and support what that seeks to become. Will without aim, like Atreyu at the No-Key Gate in Michael Ende’s Neverending Story: that is improvisation.

We have named our programme Liederkreis, although it certainly breaks the bounds of Schumann’s op. 39 cycle. We know from Robert’s letters to Clara that the poems he set were favourites of them both, and an extremely idiosyncratic compilation it is too. Unlike Dichterliebe, this cycle does not present a straightforward narration. Nonetheless, it pleased Eichendorff: in the poet’s own words, it was Schumann’s music that brought his poems to life. His ‘most Romantic music of all’, as Robert described the op. 39 cycle to Clara, became so sanctified in the 20th century that it seemed as though Robert Schumann had composed his Mondnacht to inhibit us in our own imaginative response, instead of it being intended, like all his songs, as a stimulating contribution, meant to inspire joy in pure performance, to the evening entertainments presented by such artists as Julius Stockhausen and Clara Schumann – far more colourful occasions, musically speaking, than many of the sometimes sterile Liederabende of decades gone by.

As things stand, modern musicology is in the process of giving its sanction to creative relationships with past repertoires and their forms of presentation. It is thus nothing sacrilegious if we just for once relieve Schumann’s work of its heritage protection in favour of letting ourselves be led by our “most Romantic” sense of the possible.

We consider the Eichendorff settings as a succession of songs, linked with a dreamer’s logic, that is not merely associative in itself but also leaves room for further associations and the development of their potential.

In this way we have imagined, between the songs, spaces for further ideas and elements. Folk songs, for example. One might well wonder why – we certainly have. Because Robert Schumann already in his own time perceived a growing chasm between the musically educated and the likes of you and me? Because he conjured up, perhaps despite his own doubts, a communal artwork of the people; because he struggled for a folk-like naturalness, the so-called “Volkston”, even if according to his own judgement his struggle was not exactly successful?
It is no easy matter to account for one’s ideas…

And yet we wish to make an honest attempt. So, folk songs it is. Brahms’s arrangements were an obvious choice, Brahms being in a way Schumann’s foster son. But what does Britten’s bittersweet, harmonically ambiguous view of the folk song have to do with Schumann? Or with Eichendorff? Does it touch us that the composer, temporarily resident in America in 1942, took up the songs of his embattled homeland? Or, more broadly, how the visionary, poetic concept of homeland in folk song, art song, and their corresponding poetry miraculously blurs with reality? Does the term ‘Romantic’ denote not so much an epoch as an attitude, namely, that of openness for the spiritual reality behind manifestation? “And my soul spread wide its wings, flew through the silent lands as if it were flying home.” Surely we all share this longing, as much now as 200 years ago.

And so we too have spread the wings of our soul and taken a creative role while letting ourselves be led by echo and anticipation. What must we do for the songs of yesteryear so that they may reach us? The sentiment of the soul’s readiness for death is of course much harder to evoke today than it was in the past. The anticipation of the imminent “time of silence” (“Stille Zeit” – In der Fremde I) requires preparatory attunement, a sense of the preciousness of silence in an all too clamorous time. Even the very first sentence, “From my homeland, behind the red flashes of lightning, come the clouds” all too easily evades our souls, as illuminated and deprived of magic as they are. This is not how we contemporaries think. We have no wish to know a world we cannot see.

It is with such thoughts in mind that we wandered, hearkening, from song to song, choosing, rejecting, and eventually deciding on this or that poem for spontaneous musical setting. Improvisations came into being in a spirit of trust for creative, collaborative listening – snapshots, uncut, unrepeatable, intended as sincere contributions to a living whole, captured in a process of development.

We were thankful and felt ourselves encouraged when, for example, after Schumann’s Wehmut (Melancholy) we could call on Brahms’s arrangement of the folk song Da drunten im Tale (Down there in the valley), that can only have arisen out of the courage (‘Mut’) to feel sorrow (‘Weh’), or when Schumann’s Schöne Fremde found such a direct echo in Britten’s How Sweet the Answer.

Theodor Adorno, who sought to assert the deep dramaturgical coherence of the op. 39 Lieder, nonetheless allowed doubt to creep in near the end of his consideration of the cycle. “Zwielicht attains, as the poem demands, the centre of gravity of the whole, the deepest, darkest point of feeling. Its echoes colour the eleventh song, the vision of the hunt Im Walde. Finally, in starkest contrast to the whole cycle, the uplifting Frühlingsnacht.”

In starkest contrast? One might just as well say: there is a connection missing. We have entrusted Eichendorff’s madly trembling Nachtwanderer with the task of taking the pioneering leap from here to the beyond. From shuddering in the face of the void (“…all sound died away”) to rejoicing in communion with the essential (“She is yours!”) it is indeed a long way…

Spring 2015, Anna Lucia Richter, Michael Gees

Translation: Carl Rosman/Muse Translations
Improvisatie in een klassiek genre door een sopraan en een pianist
Dit is het debuutalbum van Anna Lucia Richter, een van de meest opmerkelijke sopranen van het laatste decennium. Samen met pianist Michael Gees voert ze de beroemde Liederkreis op. 39 van Schumann uit.

De liederen uit Schumanns werk worden gecombineerd met liederen van Johannes Brahms, Benjamin Britten, en improvisaties op de gedichten van Eichendorff. Elk lied is met andere liederen verbonden door zijn sfeer, onderwerp en muzikale identiteit. Deze combinatie van liederen vormt een organische liedcyclus, een Liederkreis.

Richter en Gees schreven over hun album: “Ons programma heet Liederkreis, ook al overschrijdt het de grenzen van Schumanns cyclus. De cyclus bestaat uit een opeenvolging van liederen, verbonden door de logica van een dromer. Deze logica is niet slechts associatief op zichzelf, maar laat ook ruimte over voor nieuwe associaties.”

“Op deze manier hebben we ruimte voor nieuwe ideeën en elementen tussen de liederen bedacht, bijvoorbeeld volksliederen. De bewerkingen van Brahms waren een duidelijke keuze. Maar wat heeft Brittens bitterzoete visie op het volkslied met Schumann of met Eichendorff te maken? Slaat de term Romantiek niet vooral op een houding, namelijk die van openheid voor de spirituele werkelijkheid achter de manifestatie? Met zulke gedachten in ons hoofd dwaalden we van lied naar lied, om uiteindelijk te beslissen welk gedicht geschikt was voor improvisatie.”

“Die 22-Jährige singt das mit bezwingender Reife; sie lässt uns vollständig wissen, dass sie begreift, was sie singt. Dabei hilft ihr ein Sopran, der in der Höhe butterblumenhaft hell und süß leuchtet und in der Tiefe mitnichten versackt, sondern immer noch Volumen und Glanz hat.“ Rheinische Post, 2012

Drei Jahre später legt Anna Lucia Richter zusammen mit Michael Gees nun ihre Solodebüt-CD bei Challenge Classics vor. Um Schumanns Liederkreis haben sie ein außergewöhnliches Programm mit Lieder im Volkston von Brahms und Britten sowie Extempore gestaltet.

“Wir nennen unser Programm Liederkreis, obwohl es den Kreis des von Robert Schumann komponierten op.39 sprengt. So haben wir uns zwischen seinen Liedern Freiräume vorgestellt, in die etwas einfallen durfte. Volkslieder zum Beispiel. Nahe lagen natürlich Brahms' Bearbeitungen, schließlich war der junge Brahms eine Art Ziehsohn Schumanns gewesen. Unter solchen Gedanken sind wir gleichsam horchend von Lied zu Lied gegangen, haben ausgewählt und verworfen und uns für dieses oder jenes Gedicht zur Spontanvertonung entschieden. Improvisationen sind entstanden im Vertrauen auf schöpferisches, mitwirkendes Hören, Momentaufnahmen, ungeschnitten, unwiederholbar: als aufrichtige Beiträge zu einem lebendigen, in Entwicklung begriffenem Ganzen.
Wir waren dankbar und fühlten uns bestärkt, wenn etwa im Gefolge der Schumannschen Wehmut ein von Johannes Brahms arrangiertes Volkslied (Da drunten im Tale) zur Hand war, das kaum anders als aus dem Mut zum Weh entstanden sein dürfte oder wenn Schumanns Schöne Fremde in Brittens How sweet the answer so bruchlos nachklingt.”
Anna Lucia Richter & Michael Gees

2015 ist ein vielversprechendes Jahr für Anna Lucia Richter. Neben ihrem Debüt beim Heidelberger Frühling stand sie mit Bernhard Haitink beim Lucene Festival und gemeinsam mit dem London Symphony Orchestra in London und Tokio auf der Bühne, gastierte mit András Schiff in San Francisco und Los Angeles. Im November 2015 wird sie unter anderem unter dem Dirigat von Iván Fischer in der h-moll-Messe zu hören sein. In Essen wird sie erstmals als Pamina zu erleben sein, sowie weiterhin als Eurydice und Musica in Sascha Waltzs Inszenierung des L'Orfeo.


(...)  really feel a symbiosis with Michael and with the audience (...)
Luister, 01-12-2016

"When I could pre-sing by Haitink, I picked the notes from internet and took a taxi, "
De Volkskrant, 25-10-2016

From the jury report: "You need to have courage: diversify a song recital with improvisations. Anna Lucia Richter, the upcomming German soprano, enters convinsing with her debute album."
Edison Nomination, 19-10-2016

Channel Classics
, 22-6-2016

Ihr Opernratgeber / 06-05-2016
Ihr Opernratgeber, 06-5-2016

"What a rarity! Anna Lucia Richter is a singer with a mind of her own and this is her benefit."
niusic, 08-4-2016

"The songs all bath in an enigmatic, sensitive atmosphere, breathe nostalgia and melancholy. The piano accompaniment is soft-romantic, but at the same time contemporary-sober, which the voice supports."
Klassiek Centraal, 06-3-2016

"Bluntly failed, almost embarassing in their naivety are the spontaneous songs of the two,..."
Opernwelt, 01-3-2016

"With the same ease she does a whole song cycle. Impressive!"
Luister Magazine, 01-3-2016

" can only be enchanted by her voice: a girlishly bright organ, able to add gravity in timbre if necessary..." "While listening, time occasionally stands still."
Fono Forum, 01-3-2016

"They break through the song cycle not just with arty folk songs of Brahms and British and with their own, insanely beautiful improvisations on other texts of Eichendorff."
Klara's, 21-2-2016

CD-recommendation "Klassikwelt"
Radio Bremen, 13-2-2016

"Her white timbre contrasts somewhat with the deep melancholy of the composer."
Klassieke Zaken, 01-2-2016

Bachtrack, 19-1-2016

3*** ["]..Anna Lucia Richter however sings beautifully. She has a beautiful , lyrical soprano , reminiscent in the middle register with Felicity Lott . She sings with charm , expression and love and respect for the compositions. Possibly a CD with only " Extempore " would be even more interesting. The CD booklet contains a woolly, quasi- philosophical essay by the performers themselves."
Opera Nederland, 30-12-2015

CD-recommendation of the week
hr2-kultur, 27-12-2015

"Richters special, slender and yet deep voice captivates from beginning to end, her diction is phenomenal."
NRC Handelsblad, 14-12-2015

4**** "That Richter has much more to offer than a groomed voice, becomes clear when listening to her debut-cd. In a flash of inspiration she sings Schumann's 12-part cycle Liederkreis Op. 39 completely to pieces.” “Michael Gees is, besides being an outstanding accompanist, a gifted creator of atmosphere. His piano becomes a magic harp that radiates arounds Richter’s sound.”  
De Hand Van Guido, 05-12-2015

4**** "That Richter has much more to offer than a groomed voice, becomes clear when listening to her debut-cd. In a flash of inspiration she sings Schumann's 12-part cycle Liederkreis Op. 39 completely to pieces.” “Michael Gees is, besides being an outstanding accompanist, a gifted creator of atmosphere. His piano becomes a magic harp that radiates arounds Richter’s sound.”  
Volkskrant, 02-12-2015

With their free thinking, intelligent and protomusical performance these two artists lead the way back to the folk songs core.
BR Klassik, 01-12-2015

WDR TonArt, 16-11-2015

VAN Magazin, 01-11-2015

["]..This initiative and its realization deserves a warm recommendation."
Musicalifeiten, 01-11-2015

Play album


Anna Lucia Richter & Michael Gees - Liederkreis

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