A modest affair recorded in the intimate acoustic of the recital room of an Oxford College, this copiously annotated collection is worlds away from Decca’s grandiose “Entartete Musik” projects of the 1990s. As Judith Sheridan explains,her programme contains songs by a diverse group of musicians who would not necessarily have considered themselves culturally “Jewish” until their ethnicity became an issue. Ullman and Haas died at Auschwitz within days of each other in 1944.
We remain in the echt German world of Brahms and Strauss for the early Schreker songs, migrate to France for one of the Schulhoff’s many stylistic experiments and end up in Pavel Haas’s escapist, Janacek-derived Eden. These Seven songs in Folk Style (1940) have been recorded before but much of this material will be new to the potential buyers. Though the soprano sounds strained by some of the high tessitura of the writing (the dourly expressionistic Ullmann settings in particular are something of an ordeal), it helps that she is sympathetically accompanied.
How good is the music? Perhaps the inclusion of Korngold’s Unverganglichkeit is instructive. Its mode of address may lack originality yet there is much to be said for lush romanticism when it allows for a grateful vocal line. Incidentally, while you won’t find the words of Rupert Brooke’s Clouds, as set by the late Berthold Goldschmidt, all the relevant German – Language texts are supplied with translations.