THE LOST ROMANTICSongs of Louise Reichardt
AMY PFRIMMER, soprano
Dreux Montegut, piano
PROGRAM NOTESMusic, literature, poetry, and political discussion were all part of the household in which composer Louise Reichardt was reared. This recording celebrates the songs – Lieder and canzone – of Louise Reichardt (1779-1826), an extraordinarily influential musical figure associated with the German Romantic movement. Publishing more than ninety songs in her lifetime, some under her own name and some under the name of her composer-father, Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Louise Reichardt created a body of work that, despite its breadth and influence, has been historically neglected. With an abundant body of available, published songs written as teaching tools for her voice students, Reichardt belongs to the ever-broadening field of recently rediscovered Classical and Romantic era female composers. Her musical and personal uniqueness as an active, self-supporting and frequently published female composer may even have helped pave the way for the inclusion of later women composers, including Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel.
Reichardt’s musical lineage includes her grandfathers, both of whom served as court musicians to Frederick the Great. She was also daughter to two musicians: her mother, Juliane Benda, herself a composer and well-regarded singer who died when Louise was a small child, and her father, Johann Friedrich, whose compositional mentoring was fundamental to her musical development. Her access to continuous musical stimulation and critical thinking about music, literature and philosophy resulted from her father’s associations and his position as Kapellmeister and court composer to Frederick the Great. The Reichardt home was a hub of musical activity as well as intellectual and literary discussion, with the Reichardt’s hosting the exchange of works and ideas by contemporary leading poets, philosophers and writers.
Once in Hamburg, Reichardt ran a thriving singing studio and was a choral conductor. Reichardt, along with Johann Heinrich Clasing, the Hamburg musical associate who was her composition and conducting teacher there, formed the Hamburg women’s Choral Society, or Gesangverein. She worked tirelessly for the society, preparing chorus and soloists, and translating texts for performances of Händel and Mozart choral works, which were her particular passion. Although the gender norms of the time led to her male colleagues, particularly Clasing, ultimately conducted performances, Louise was nonetheless regarded as an essential contributor and influence in Hamburg’s musical scene.
The songs selected for this recording are grouped by the poets who formed Reichardt’s circle of friends. Among them were the notable Romantic era literary figures Clemens Wenzeslaus Brentano, Novalis, Johann Ludwig Tieck, Karl Philipp Conz, Carl Ludwig Achim von Arnim, as well as Philipp Otto Runge and Karl Wetzl. The program begins with the dramatic Sei canzoni di Metastasio, songs based on historical poetry, and ends with three additional songs on Metastasio texts. Also included is a tender song text from Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
Each piece is a miniature jewel that emphasizes Reichardt’s talent for writing sweet, lyrical melodies that unite expressive, melodic text setting and demanding legato line. The pieces are graceful, elegant, delicate and charming, and display both German and Italian stylistic elements. Many of the songs are strophic, generally with modest, mid-range vocal lines. The harmonies are uncomplicated with understated accompaniments that never overshadow the voice or immediacy of the text. The songs exhibit influences of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Franz Schubert, her contemporary, whose compositional style, in turn, was also influenced by Reichardt’s own father.
Despite the glowing praise and popularity of Louise Reichardt’s work during her lifetime, she has been largely forgotten, with only a handful of her songs ever having been recorded. The tendency of history to fail to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments of women, including women composers, certainly failed Reichardt. However, upon hearing her songs, characterized by simplicity, lovely melodies and an unpretentious framework, listeners will find them as delightful and interesting as any by her contemporaries.
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Known for dramatic and vocal versatility, soprano Amy Pfrimmer has performed across the United States, Europe and Canada. Notable engagements include appearances with the London Symphony, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Montreal Opera, New Orleans Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Mississippi Opera, State Opera Stara Zagora, Baltimore Choral Arts and the symphony orchestras of Atlanta, Illinois, Virginia and Santa Barbara. Operatic roles include The Merry Widow, Violetta, Mimì, Musetta, Cio-Cio San, Nedda, Amahl’s mother and Rosalinda. Her wide-ranging concert repertoire includes Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Poulenc’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah and Beethoven’s Choral Symphony. Pfrimmer collaborated frequently with conductor Russell Gloyd and the late Dave Brubeck in his Mass, To Hope! A Celebration and La Fiesta de la Posada and appeared in numerous performances with the New Sousa Band under Keith Brion. Pfrimmer actively presents recital programs nationally and internationally, including Songs from the War Years: Music of World War I, Souvenance: Music of César Franck, Absolutely American and Cabaret Soirée! She has appeared in recital throughout Bulgaria and France, where she performed in several concert series, including Vendredi Soirées at St. Pierre le Jeune and Les Estivales de St. Guillaume in Strasbourg, l’Abbaye de Royaumont, Cathédrale de Fréjus, Festival d’Orgue de Colmar, The American Cathedral and Saint-Eustache in Paris. Since 2007, Pfrimmer has served as the vocal coordinator and concert vocal series director at Tulane University. In 2012, she was appointed the Lillian Gerson Watsky Professor in Voice, and in 2018 became the director of the opera workshop. Pfrimmer is sought after for her energetic interactive university and young artist program master classes, and is a well-respected contest adjudicator. Awards for the soprano include the Crest Award for Outstanding Faculty Member at Tulane, a fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, a Metropolitan Opera Education Fund study grant, an Emerging Leaders Award from the NATS Foundation and Florida Grand Opera’s Gilbert Artist of the Year. Early in her career, Pfrimmer was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. An alumnus of the young artist programs of Florida Grand Opera, Virginia Opera and Chautauqua Opera, Pfrimmer received her Master of Music degree from Loyola University and her Bachelor of Music degree from Louisiana State University. Her teachers have included Martina Arroyo, Mary Henderson Buckley, Philip Frohnmayer, Sandra Kungle, Arthur Levy, and Patricia O’Neill.
Dreux Montegut has been a faculty member of Loyola University since 1994, and has previously served on the faculties of Tulane University and the Notre Dame Graduate School of Theology. He also maintains an active private teaching studio. In addition to his work at Loyola, Montegut is Director of Music at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans where he directs the Cathedral Choir and Concert Choir, as well as annual orchestral concerts. Previously, he was Assistant Chorus Master with the New Orleans Opera and Director of the New Orleans Children’s Chorus. A gifted vocal instructor, Montegut’s extensive work with young male singers has made him sought after in the field, with students going on to prestigious graduate programs, including Indiana University, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Florida State University. Also an effective recruiter, Montegut has guided young artists to study at Loyola University, including soprano, Cleona Torres and tenor, Bryan Hymel. Montegut’s professional memberships include the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the American Choral Directors Association and the National Association for Music Education. A graduate of the Eastman School, Montegut studied with mezzo soprano, Marcia Baldwin, and took vocal coaching with Kenneth Merrill and Robert Spillman. Other notable teachers include Philip Frohnmayer, Florence and Michael Presti and Robert Grayson. While in graduate school, Montegut was a full scholarship recipient to the Aspen Music Festival where he performed vocal works by Handel and Berio, and served as a coach accompanist. Following his graduate studies, Montegut returned to New Orleans and performed with Gulf Coast Opera, Tulane Summer Lyric, and New Orleans Civic Symphony.
PROGRAMLOUISE REICHARDT (1779-1826)
Sei Canzoni di Metastasio
I. Ombre amene, amiche piante
II. Più liete imagine nell’alma aduna
III. Semplicetta tortorella
IV. Fra un dolce deliro
V. Non turbar quand io mi lagno
VI. Se non piange un infelice
Texts: Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782)
Ruhe, Süßliebchen, im Schatten
Durch die bunten Rosen
Texts: Johann Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853)
Text: Karl Friederich Gottlob Wetzl (1779-1819)
Das Mädchen am Ufer
Text: Karl Philipp Conz (1762-1827)
Hymnen an die Nacht (aus Novalis’ Geistlichen Liedern)
Sehnsucht nach den Vaterland
An Maria (aus Novalis’ Geistlichen Liedern)
Texts: Novalis (1772-1801)
Ein recht Gemüth
Texts: Karl Ludwig Achim von Armim (1781-1831)
Durch den Wald
Ich wollt’ ein Sträußlein binden
Texts: Clemens Wenzeslaus Brentano (1778-1842)
Frühlingsblumen (aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
Die Blume der Blumen
Text: Philipp Otto Runge (1777-1810)
Giusto Amor (Poesia)
Già della notte oscura (Notturno)
Vanne felice rio (Poesia)
Texts: Pietro Metastasio