Wolf: Italienisches Liederbuch / Clayton, Sampson, Middleton

Regular price $21.99
Added to Cart! View cart or continue shopping.
Composed in feverish bouts interrupted by long periods of inaction, Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch was brought to completion in 1896. The 46 songs are settings...

Composed in feverish bouts interrupted by long periods of inaction, Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch was brought to completion in 1896. The 46 songs are settings of poems in German by Paul Heyse, after Italian folk songs – miniatures with a duration of less than 2 minutes in most cases. Heyse’s collection numbered more than 350 poems, but Wolf ignored the ballads and laments, and concentrated almost exclusively on the rispetti. These are short love poems which chart, against a Tuscan landscape, the everyday jealousies, flirtations, joys and despairs of men and women in love. Heyse’s translations often intensify the simple Italian of the original poems, and in their turn, Wolf’s settings represent a further heightening of emotion. Miniatures they may be, but many of the songs strike unforgettably at the heart. When Wolf’s songbook is performed in its entirety, it is usually done by a male and a female singer, although this is not specified in the score. It is not uncommon for them to be transposed, but the songs are written for high voices, and are here performed by a soprano and a tenor – Carolyn Sampson and Alan Clayton – with Joseph Middleton at the piano. The performers have chosen to present the songs in the order they appear in the printed collection, dividing them between themselves.


The Italian Songbook consists of two groups of songs. The first group, consisting of 22 songs, was set in 1890 – 1891 and the second group with 24 songs in 1896. Strictly speaking it isn’t a cycle, and in some recordings the interpreters have opted for their personal order of the songs, but many stick to the order in which Wolf published them, and this is also the case with the present issue. The two singers are well-matched. Carolyn Sampson has been an avid advocate for baroque music for many years, but she has also ventured into art songs...Tenor Allan Clayton‘s career has focused on opera – his Peter Grimes at Covent Garden recently was a resounding triumph – but he has also frequently given song recitals...So, I had high expectations when I set to work with this disc.

The first thing I observed was the sensitive playing of Joseph Middleton, pliable and perceptive. Secondly I noted Carolyn Sampson’s girlish tone in Auch kleine Dinge, and her soft and inward reading. This was a recurrent feature throughout the programme.

When Allan Clayton made his entrance, he at once convinced me: here he displayed his armoury of nuances that had enthralled me on the Liszt disc, his beautiful pianissimo – listen to the end of Gesegnet sei (tr. 4) or the mastery half-voice in Der Mond hat eine schwere Klag’ erhoben – but on the reverse side of the coin his dramatic capacity was just as telling: Wenn du mich mit den Augen streifst und lachst (tr. 38) is just one instance. And Carolyn Sampson has the same sense for drama: so agitated and energetic in Wer rief dich denn? (tr. 6). Looking back on my notes, I see that the pad is littered with positive remarks and exclamation marks, but printing them here would surely be rather tiresome reading – and I rather leave it to those who buy the disc to find all the felicities these two well-endowed Liedersänger indulge in. The prestige word for all singing of Lieder is nuances, and from the above I believe that readers have understood that Carolyn Sampson and Allan Clayton are masterly in that respect.

How do they stand up against the competition from other recordings? Very well, I would say...Sampson and Clayton are certainly among the top contenders.

-- MusicWeb International

Product Description:

  • Release Date: July 01, 2022

  • UPC: 7318599925530

  • Catalog Number: BIS-2553

  • Label: BIS

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: Romantic

  • Composer: Hugo Wolf

  • Performer: Carolyn Sampson, Allan Clayton, Joseph Middleton


  1. Italienisches Liederbuch

    Composer: Hugo Wolf

    Performer: Allan Clayton (Tenor), Carolyn Sampson (Soprano), Joseph Middleton (Piano)