By turns ecstatic and deeply depressed, as is the way with bipolar disorders, Hugo Wolf gave the world great and precious masterpieces in the genre of the lied with his great cycles, in particular Italienisches Liederbuch, for two voices, which represents the soul of the art. 46 lieder speak of love, focusing on the tangled feelings of man and woman across lovers' dialogues in ironic, gallant and impassioned tones. Written around words by Paul Heyse based on anonymous Tuscan poems, this collection is full of ballads, and in particular rispetti (compliments), folksy poems made up of two quatrains. The German translation seriously disfigures the light touch of the Italian original, especially as Hugo Wolf makes no attempt to "do Italian" in his compositions. “I assure you: a warm heart beats in the little chests of my youngest southern children, who, despite everything, cannot hide their German origins. Yes, their hearts beat in German, even though the sun shines in Italian", he told a friend. This Italian collection is made up of, as Stéphanie Goldet writes, "little love stories, moments of impatience or frustration, wishes and warnings, complaints and recriminations, demands and unconditional surrenders".
Recorded in concert at the Hesse Philharmonic on 18 February 2018, this new recording ranks alongside other legendary records such as those by Schwarzkopf and Fischer-Dieskau; it will surely become a new reference point version. While it was reasonable to worry about Jonas Kaufmann's voice, we can hear that it has recovered all its strength and its thousand and one miraculous nuances. His partner, Diana Damrau, is radiant, with a song that brings together the many different emotions of a worried and sometimes mischievous young girl. But this dialogue would be nothing without the subtle and refined piano-playing of Helmut Deutsch, who has given these miniatures such an irresistible accompaniment. © François Hudry/Qobuz