INKPOT#94 CLASSICAL MUSIC: Kein schöner Land – A Collection of German a capella Songs (Hänssler)
Kein schner Land A Collection of German a capella Songs including “Yesterday”
Knabenchor capella vocalis
directed by Eckhard Weyand
Libretto in German, with Translations to English, French and Spanish No programme notes provided.
HÄNSSLER Classic CD 98.360
by Ng Yeuk Fan
Programme 1. Jeden Morgen geht die Sonne auf
2. Bald prangt, den Morgen zu verknden
3. Aus den hellen Birken steigt
4. Es tagt, der Sonne Morgenstrahl!
5. Stimmt an den Lobgesang
6. Audite, silete
7. Die liebe Maienzeit
8. Das Wandern ist des Mllers Lust
9. Es klappert die Mhle
10. Am Brunnen vor dem Tore; Schubert
11. Wenn alle Brnnlein flieen,
12. Es freit ein wilder Wassermann
13. In einem khlen Grunde
14. Zum Tanze da geht ein Mdel
15. Es lebte einst in Indien
16. nnchen von Tharau
17. La die Nacht, la den Tag vergehen
18. Ich hab am Anzug viele Taschen
20. Sag beim Abschied leise Servus
21. Kein schner Land
22. Hinuter ist der Sonnen Schein
23. Nun ruhen aller Wlder
24. Verklugen ist des Tages Treiben
25. ber den silbernen Bergen
26. Scheint der Mond durchs Fenster
27. Der Tag, mein Gott, ist nun vergangen
28. Komm, Trost der Welt, du stille Nacht
The programme here, which includes the patriotic song Kein schner Land from which this album get its name, is a mixed collection of German folksongs, European traditionals, hymns and even the pop song “Yesterday”. One wishes for more notes to explain why they have been collected and presented as such. Nonetheless, these are all very charming short, mostly acapella works, with occasional instrumental accompaniment by an unnamed small instrument ensemble.
The Knabenchor capella vocalis was founded by Eckhard Weyand in 1992 in Reutlingen, Germany. They comprise 120 all male voices. Boys are employed to take the 2 upper treble lines but there are also occasional male altos together with the remaining 2 sections of adult voices. Characteristic of German boy trebles, there is a bright buccal sound correctly placed in the chest. Lines are robust and never weepy nor akwardly breathy. Those who enjoy Anthony Way or the likes of Charlotte Church should not get this CD. Despite the very gentle nature of most of the programme here, there is not a hint of soppy sentimental singing here.
The Knabenchor capella vocalis’ tone is laudably pure, warm and uncluttered but tend on the plain side. This is a choir that never grates on the ears. They have a honey-quality that makes them superb in folksongs like Es freit ein wilder Wassermann and La die Nacht, la den Tag vergehen. The men of Knabenchor capella vocalis are so compelling in In einem khlen Grunde that I am moved to tears by their sublime rendition of the melancholy in the song. Here, they capture the essence of the lovely German song perfectly. One cannot tire listening to them.
Eckhard Weyand directs with clean and neat lines in a fashion most suitable for closed harmonies, paying attention to blend, neat articulaton and ensemble. These are where this choir excels and Weyand succesfully brings out the inner colours very well. Hear J.S. Bach’s Nun ruhen aller Wlder. The inner shifts in harmonies are superbly generated and the choral sound very mature and almost sweet. One also notes that the boys here are extremely disciplined and there is hardly any wayward treble sticking out here or there. Listen to ber den silbernen Bergen and one can be convinced by how neat the treble section of this choir is. In fact, they can be neater in ensemble work than the Tlz and the Vienna Boy’s.
Nonetheless, one senses a lack of spontaniety in many cases, such as in the almost jazzy Ich hab am Anzug viele Taschen, which should not be sung in the same gentle manner. This must be due to a lack of creative imagination. The quest of ever purer choral sound should not lead to boredom. For example – the radiantly beautiful song Sag beim Abschied leise Servus sports such an interesting free and shifty arrangment, but this was hardly exploited by Eckhard Weyand’s rigid and colourless treatment.
Eckhard Weyand tends towards a more confined dynamic range for his choir and Scheint der Mond durchs Fenster would need a more imaginative and dynamic phrasing if it is to come alive. This contrasts with the ensuing Der Tag, mein Gott, ist nun vergangen which is phrased in a much more interesting way.
Hänssler’s recording is first class and has captured and balanced the entire choral sound very nicely, with the lower male voices blending in perfectly with the boys. They are never too artificially rich nor boomy with excessive recorded bass. Altogether, this is still an enjoyable disc. There are be moments of flatness but they fade away into the background rather than irritate – this being due to the largely beautiful and gentle singing throughout. The gems however, dazzle.
695: 14.2.2000 NG Yeuk Fan