Max Kowalski Songs
Max Kowalski, who lived and practiced law in Frankfurt am Main, was from 1913 till 1933 a well-known, much-esteemed, and frequently performed composer. Kowalski was born in Poland (then Russia) on August 10th, 1882 and grew up in Germany, to which his parents emigrated when he was a year old. Kowalski's reputation rests on his production of more than two hundred art songs, which have been in the repertoire of many leading artists, including Heinrich Schlusnus, Maria Ivogün, Paul Bender, Joseph Schwarz, Alexander Kipnis, Karen Branzell, and Hans Hotter. The present CD is drawn from a recital sung in 2011 in Munich by the great Austrian baritone, Wolfgang Holzmair. It offers two song cycles and songs composed to texts by some of Germany's leading poets. The CD includes Kowalski's best known cycle, his Pierrot Lunaire, which appeared the same year (1913) as Arnold Schoenberg's settings.
“Holzmair sings it all with an immaculate style that admirable fuses sound and sense...Thérèse Lundquist tackles the accompaniments, some of them almost Lisztian in their complexity, with terrific aplomb.” - Gramophone
“Kowalski is no musical iconoclast, preferring instead to exploit the grotesque imagery of the poetry within strictly tonal parameters...Holzmair delivers all the music with great commitment, taking infinite care to put across the exact sentiment and mood of each poem.” - BBC Music Magazine
“Wolfgang Holzmair has a warm, rich baritone that seems well-suited to the repertoire. Kowalski was an intuitive melodist, and Holzmair’s fluid delivery retains some of the spontaneous nature of the music. Highly recommended for aficionados of lieder.” - Finding Beauty in Ephemera