Paul Hindemith composed what certainly qualifies as his best-known song cycle in 1924 but then thoroughly revised it twenty-four years later. The second version of 1948 is now being presented on cpo, and of the two it is surely the one that is easier to sing, more appealing, and on the whole of greater maturity. The cycle consists of songs based on poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. It depicts moments in the life of the Virgin Mary, and the song depicting the birth of Christ occupies the center of the cycle in its simplicity and concentration. Glenn Gould regarded Hindemith's Marian cycle as nothing less than the most magnificent song cycle ever written, and it is now fittingly and outstandingly interpreted by the soprano Maya Boog and the pianist Michael Lakner, who is also the director of the Lehár Festival in Bad Ischl. The production of the song cycle likewise occurred in conjunction with last year's Lehár Festival, where this sacred counterpoint to the operetta program created a sensation acclaimed by the public and the press: »Lakner, also an excellent pianist, accompanied the Swiss singer Maya Boog's clear rendering of the text and elegant phrasing in the performance of Paul Hindemith's Marienleben in the city's parish church: a soulful rendering of the second version of the work was transmitted there« (Die Presse, Vienna).
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