In celebration of Hugo Wolf’s 160th birth year, the ZKP RTV Slovenia label released a new recording of these little known arrangements for soprano and organ, by Max Reger. The songs are exemplary of Wolf’s compositional style and the arrangement for organ is expertly done, giving the listener a range of additional colors which are quite suitable for these Sacred Songs.
Wolf transferred his subtle and sensitive attitude towards poetry to the field of music in an original way. The concentrated expression of his musical language is always focused on the lyrical level of the verses. In a field of expanded tonality, he experimented with post-Wagnerian declamation (a declamatory vocal melody enabled the expressiveness of the poetry considerable freedom), while also retaining some elements of the lieder tradition of Schubert and Schumann. With Max Reger’s selection of fourteen of Wolf’s songs (Ten Spiritual Songs from The Spanish Songbook and Four Spiritual Songs from the Mörike Collection), he sought to emphasize the spiritual side of the works, and as an extraordinary authority on the organ’s expressive abilities, he transposed the original chamber character of the spiritual content to the environment of church music.