The Berolina Ensemble scored a sensational success with its discovery of Waldemar von Bausznern’s music – and not without reason. Bausznern’s music is distinguished by individual wit and instrumented with rich imagination, and what the young Berlin chamber ensemble gets out of the unusual instrumental combinations is an absolute listening must. Now the Berolinas have unearthed yet another treasure trove: a quintet and a trio frame Bausznern’s Chamber Songs, which Maria Bengtsson interprets with a fine feel for the traditional French, German, and Italian melodies.
Bausznern, who grew up in Transylvania, quite early developed an interest in the folk music of his Hungarian surroundings. He was influenced by the New Germans, educated in the Brahms tradition in Berlin, and went on to develop a most highly individual personal style that is always good for surprises. However, it seems to have been too “far out” for the conservative Berlin public of his times, whose members evidently were irritated by its great artistic freedom.
All of which makes it all the more enthralling today: the works recorded here offer exemplary illustrations of the very different aspects in Bausznern’s oeuvre. While the String Trio very much in the Brahms tradition is elaborated with strict thematic work, the Chamber Songs radiate a lightheartedness underscoring the folk-song character of the old melodies and situating the cycle in the tonal vicinity of the impressionists. By contrast, the Quintet with an original scoring for piano, violin, clarinet, horn, and violoncello recalls Wagnerian harmony – and of course plays in virtuosic style with the manifold combinatory opportunities for this peculiar fivesome.
In any event, here the Berolina Ensemble is completely in its element. Driven by the joy of discovery, the musicians create a fresh interpretation and convey it just as naturally as if the works had long belonged to the concert repertoire. And then we have the uncommonly vivid and finely balanced 2+2+2 recording – a three-dimensional sound feast capturing the best of the highly imaginative instrumentations and the fine room reflections.