CD ''Die stille Stadt'' - available 10 September 2021
Dorothea Herbert’s innate ability to connect with powerful emotions and convey them with total conviction and honesty helped shape the programme of her debut recording. The album, set for international release on 10 September 2021 on the Dutch independent label 7 Mountain Records, explores themes of quietude, silence, hope, introversion and sadness, conditions fresh from the recent experience of so many around the world. Die stille Stadt… presents Herbert’s personal choice of songs by Alma Mahler and Franz Schreker together with Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s five Op.27 songs, three Op.22 songs and the aria ‘Glück, das mir verblieb’ from his opera Die tote Stadt. The album opens with Alma Mahler’s intense setting of Richard Dehmel’s poem Die stille Stadt and includes her sublime ‘Licht in der Nacht’. Herbert reflects on the nature of stillness with songs as diverse as Schreker’s ‘Wohl fühl ich, wie das Leben rinnt’ and ‘Die Dunkelheit sinkt schwer’ before exploring Korngold’s Unvergänglichkeit Op.27, with its themes of love’s eternal power to heal and renew. The recording, made in company with American pianist Peter Nilsson, was conceived in response to last year’s Covid-enforced closure of theatres and concert halls.
Herbert needed a creative project to sustain her during a period of great uncertainty. She began by compiling her ideal programme of songs, then applied for and received funding from the Deutsche Musikrat’s post-pandemic Neustart Kultur initiative. Klaus Bertich, Dutch National Opera’s former head dramaturg, offered invaluable advice on her proposed album’s running order.
“I don’t think this would have happened without the pandemic,” she notes. “Because so many productions were cancelled at once, I suddenly had time to build an album programme and to record it. Of course the title Die stille Stadt…, ‘The quiet city’, refers to what we have gone through and are still facing thanks to Corona. This collection of songs takes the listener on a circular journey, from Alma Mahler’s vision of a quiet town just before dark to Korngold’s Die tote Stadt which, despite its title, is a work full of hope. It tells us that death is not the end, that it is part of the continuing cycle of life.”
Music, suggests Dorothea Herbert, has saved many from falling into despair during lockdown. “I’ve listened to so much music since the pandemic began,” she says. “That in turn gave me inspiration for the CD. The album is very important to me. Making it is another dream come true. These songs, like Beethoven’s Leonore, remind us that we humans are all vulnerable and in the same boat. My profession is about giving people joy and comfort, which is why I hope this album touches listeners at the deepest level.”
Dorothea Herbert soprano | Peter Nilsson piano
A.Mahler ‘Die stille Stadt’; ‘Meine Nächte’; ‘Ansturm’; ‘Ekstase’; ‘Der Erkennende’; ‘Licht in der Nacht’
Schreker ‘Wohl fühl ich, wie das Leben rinnt’; ‘Unendliche Liebe’; ‘Vernichtet ist mein Lebensglück’; ‘Die Dunkelheit sinkt schwer’; ‘Traum’; ‘Spuk’; ‘Stimmen des Tages’
Korngold Op.27; Op.22; ‘Glück, das mir verblieb’ from Die tote Stadt