Three composers, two performers and centre stage a young, and sometimes sensitive protagonist. Baritone Ludwig Mittelhammer and pianist Jonathan Ware interpret songs by Franz Schubert, Hugo Wolf and Nikolai Medtner. This is the debut album of a young singer of whom great things are expected.
Ludwig Mittelhammer recounts how he felt a close affiliation with Franz Schubert at an early age, when he was a member of the famous Tölz Boys' Choir. Right from the outset the Munich-born singer was clear that Schubert's songs would one day be part of his debut album. "I remember frequently hearing 'Schöne Müllerin' at home, or simply some of Schubert's songs."
The starting point for his approach to a song is the poet's original text, as it would have been for the composer. "I start by trying, on a very fundamental and simple level, to work out what the lyrics are about. What is happening? Who is speaking? What sort of emotions does the poem overall invoke?" Especially when it comes to Hugo Wolf, who both Mittelhammer and Ware say subordinates the music to the lyrics like no other, this would seem like a sensible way of working.
His musical partner at the piano is the Texan Jonathan Ware. Together the two have won such prizes as the 2014 song competition staged by the International Hugo Wolf Academy based in Stuttgart. "It's like a game of ping-pong," Ware explains, when the two collaborate. A spontaneous game of throwing ideas back and forth. It is thanks to Jonathan Ware that Ludwig Mittelhammer became aware of the third composer on the album: Nikolai Medtner. "We were looking for pieces for a Goethe song recital, and we needed something that would lighten up the Schubert-Wolf programme that we had worked out. He suggested Medtnerʼs songs to me. They are very virtuoso in the piano part and not always easy for me to sing, because they hit the very high and the very low notes – but they are musically so very interesting and really beautiful."