Bretan 'My Lieder-Land' The Songs Volume 1

This, the first of two volumes of selections from "My Lieder-Land", comprises 22 songs, mostly to Romanian texts. Most of these were recorded live in concert and feature one of the world's foremost interpreters of Bretan's Lieder, the baritone, Ludovic Konya.

The Romanian composer Nicolae Bretan occupies a special niche in the history of Western music. In his several operas and prodigious number of art songs, Bretan looked to the essential nature of song itself, and to the capabilities of the human voice in regard to its expressive functions and possibilities. In this sense he can be compared to Gluck, and also, in the directness and "natural" qualities of his musical language, to Mussorgsky.

The rediscovery of Bretan and the revival of his music today are important for two reasons. The need for atonement - for the political injustice done to the man himself, in his own country and as an artist - is fairly obvious. But the recovery of his works is a cultural obligation we all must share, as we must with respect to all of Western culture's great artistic creations.

A new biography Nicolae Bretan, His Life - His Music by Hartmut Gagelmann, translated by Beaumont Glass, is available from Pendragon Press (ISBN 1-57647-021-0) .



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It’s the melodic inventiveness and the direct communicative approach of the songs that go direct to the heart of the listener. After a few songs one has learnt his very suggestive way of turning a phrase, but that doesn’t mean that he is predictable. His songs are like the best folksongs: immediately appealing, simple but organically connected with the words. Having listened to five volumes of Bretan’s songs I have to say that I have been immersed in his tonal world and it still fascinates me as much as it did when I heard the first few of them.

Practically every song has something special about it but it is natural that one gets favourites.Inima(tr. 1), for instance, strophic, extremely beautiful;On the Hill of Feleac(tr. 6);Forget Your World(tr. 7), like a revival hymn, the lullabyAt my Son’s Cradle(tr. 9), the powerful and intenseNight Passage for Carts(tr. 14),When Memories …(tr. 19), where the singer’s long legato phrases are impressive andSleepy Little Birds(tr. 21). There is nothing artificial about these songs, and the readings are also very much alive, enhanced no doubt by the presence of an audience on most of the tracks.

Göran Forsling,

"Nimbus Records are rumored to headquarter in the stones of an ancient castle: our curiosity leads us to wonder whether these historic blocks and their inhabitants are related in some most unnatural way to the Transylvanian treasures on this disc. We have Nicolae Bretan-The Transylvanian composer of heart-rendingly beautiful melodies; the lyrics of the Old World's most soulful-Goga, Ady, Eminescu, Cosbuc, Eftimiu, Rilke; the superb singing and playing of Transylvania's baritone Ludovic Konya and pianist Ferdinand Weiss. The cover and tray card tell us about the baritone and pianist, but the real surprise is within: once one looses the nails from the shrink-wrapped jewel-case/coffin, and crow-bars out the gothic-proportioned booklet from its crypt, one discovers that Nimbus have kept another pianist-Martin Berkofsky-prisoner in their dungeon. Perhaps this Berkofsky is not allowed into the daylight, or worse, perhaps Nimbus have already dosed him with the requisite stake in the heart. Nevertheless be Berkofsky one of the living or one of the living dead, his partnership (eight of the 22 tracks on this disc,)with Konya reaches those rare and sublime heights of truth to the composer. Nimbus' crypt yields no biographical information on any of the performers and we wonder if they all are cursed to perpetual darkness. Or perhaps this is all a clever advertising ploy like the dry-goods' purveyors "open to see if you have won a prize." We have opened and we have definitely won a grand prize."-Anonymous

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