Ed. Hans Jancik (Gesamtausgabe, xi/1); Musikwissenschaftlicher Verlag
Wolfs six completed choral works with orchestra will together constitute vol. xi of the complete edition. Each is to be issued singly, presumably with the same preface as here, which competently covers that Wolfian genre in general. However, purchasers would have profited from separate treatment in this respect also. Christnacht is short-changed. We should surely have been told what Marie Lang had to say, about the genesis of this masterpiece, not merely referred to the Decsey biography; and the traditional carol that Wolf incorporates should have been quoted. Instead, the facts are not just truncated but garbled. The English version of the preface contains obvious errors, including misprints; there is another in the timpani direction on p.58. Among so much detail in the Revisionsbericht it seems odd to omit any reference to the occasional corrections (cf trumpet 3, bar 286) now made to the Reger-Foll first edition of 1903.
But all Wolfians will be grateful for this otherwise impeccable publication and hopeful of its performance. The music needs a conductor-advocate to plead its cause. Its intended leitmotifs often look more like lied-motifs, on the printed page; thus the high repeated staccato keyboard chords that symbolized twinkling starlight for Wolf as for Schubert will surely be far harder to visualize when heard on woodwind. Even some rescoring may be justified, to lighten and clarify such latent meanings, too often muffled by the thick textures imported from Lisztian and Wagnerian orchestral techniques. Then at last we shall hear the true achievement of a great composer at the height of his powers striving to match the exalted themes of incarnation and redemption.
The Musical Times, Feb. 1987 (p. 92) © the estate of eric sams