Yvonne Prentki & Benedikt ter Braak

Ich sehe still vorüberziehen

Photo: Rebecca ter Braak



ter Braak


“This time, colorature sopranist Yvonne Prentki was a surprise. She became the star of the evening and sang, among others, the merry song ‘A Night in Venice‘ and ‘Je veux vivre‘ from the opera ‘Roméo et Juliette.‘ She delighted the audience with outstanding clarity in her voice and
with acting talent.“

Rheinische Post

“The quartet with four grand pianos including Patricia Martin, Mirela Zhulalo, and Benedikt ter Braak impressed in a live recording with their wonderful performance and an ostinate pulse and modulation full of variety. Their recent solo album excited in the same way.“


Lieder by
Richard Strauss,
Josephine Lang,
Nadia Boulanger &
Ethel Smyth

Singer Yvonne Prentki and pianist Benedikt ter Braak offer thrilling discoveries: songs by composers which have been underestimated for way too long. How much they have been neglected becomes especially clear in combination with Richard Strauss‘ cycle ‚Mädchenblumen‘: this kitschy, glorified model of femininity receives opposition through the songs by Josephine Lang, Nadia Boulanger, and Ethel Smyth. We love to see it!

The Romantic period is the period of the song (lied), but who today knows about song cycles written by women? ‘Die schöne Müllerin‘ (the beautiful miller’s wife), ‚Winter-reise‘ (winter journey), ‘Frauenliebe und Leben‘ (women’s love and life), or ‘Italienisches Liederbuch‘ (Italian song-book) – they are all composed by men. But songs by female composers? For a long time, those were a niche interest only for the initiated. However, this is increasingly changing. More and more, those women who were once pushed to the sidelines by men and social conventions and who were forced to pursue their art in the shadows are now emerging into the light of day. In fact, more female composers were active in those days than one might expect. The problem is that only few people today know of them. This situation motivated singer Yvonne Prentki and pianist Benedikt ter Braak to go on a search. And of course, they struck it rich, since in the Romantic period, there were many female composers who were dedicated to the art of the song. Ironically, it was their work on Strauß‘ cycle ‚Mädchenblumen‘ which sparked the musicians‘ interest in their search, thinking that in a genre in which female composers had already established a niche for themselves in the 19th century, there should be contemporaries who can refute such simplistic depictions.

And they do exist: among them are Josephine Lang, Ethel Smyth, and Nadia Boulanger. The latter wore many hats, working as a composer, conductor, music journalist, and music theorist. First and foremost, she made a name for herself through her pedagogical work. Among her most famous students are Quincy Jones, Aaron Copland, Philipp Glass, and Astor Piazzolla. Boulanger was the first female conductor of many renown orchestras, among them the BBC Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Or Josephine Lang, certainly one of the most interesting and also least researched personalities of her era. She was part of the musical society, was supported by Clara Schumann, Ferdinand Hiller, and Felix Mendelssohn. After the early death of her husband, she raised her six children on her own, and she outlived three of her them. She was also faced with financial difficulties, and still Lang left behind many songs, which she also wrote as a therapeutic dialogue with herself. And finally, Ethel Smyth. She was a proponent of women’s rights throughout her life. Sometimes, she dressed up as a man to be able to attend concerts late at night. Her masses, symphonies, and operas are enjoying a rediscovery, and this recording wants to do its part in rediscovering her contributions to the lieder/song genre.

Yvonne Prentki and Benedikt ter Braak have known each other since the beginning of their studies at Folkwang Universität der Künste in 2007. Alongside their friendship, their shared passion for the lied/song genre also grew over the years. Since 2020, one of the focal points of their repertoire has been the interpretation of works by female composers from the Romantic period. With their current repertoire, they won the special prize of the city Tübingen during the first international Josephine Lang Lied Contest.

At the age of seven, Yvonne Prentki began piano lessons at the Musikschule Hilden, and at age fourteen, started vocal lessons with Anja Paulus. She studied musical theater and vocal pedagogy at the Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover with Prof. Gudrun Pelker. In addition to musical theater, her interests are in lied/song and concert singing, and she furthered her studies in the lied class of Justus Zeyen. In 2014, Yvonne had her debut at Stadttheater Hildesheim as queen of the night. In Spring 2015, Yvonne could be heard at the Opera de Dijon as Bubikopf in Viktor Ullmann’s ‘Der Kaiser von Atlantis.‘ During the 2017/2018 season, she performed at Theater Hof in Aribert Reimann’s ‘Das Traumspiel‘ and as Morgana in Händel’s ‘Alcina.‘ Since the 2018/2019 season, she is engaged at Freies Landestheater Bayern (Bavaria) in the role of queen of the night in Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute.‘ Since 2019/2020, she is also a constant member of the ensemble at Theater Hof. Her discography includes a recording of J.S. Mayr’s ‘I Cherusci,‘ where she sings the main part of Tusnelda (published under the label Naxos), and a recording produced at Theater Hof of A. Reimann’s ‘Ein Traumspiel‘ in the parts of the singer, Sie and Edith.

Already during his musical education, Benedikt ter Braak (*1986) sought to understand and learn to play in the most diverse musical worlds. After he was educated both in classical piano and jazz piano, he studied musical pedagogy at the Folkwang Universität der Künste. At the same time, he began his studies in composition, majoring in instrumental composition of new music and pop composition. Afterwards, in 2017, he completed his masters in professional performance with a major in piano cum laude. Since then, Benedikt ter Braak has been a sought-after pianist and composer and has performed at renown festivals like the Donaueschingen Musiktage or the Klavierfestival Rhein-Ruhr. His pieces were premiered by the Bochum Symphonics and the Radiophilharmonie Saar, his electro-acoustic compositions have been performed, in addition to several concerts in Germany, in New York and Mexico. He regularly writes and arranges music for the Theater Trier as well as for independent productions, which have been shown at Körber-Festival für junge Regie in Hamburg, among others. In 2020, he composed and produced the music for Henrietta Horn’s theater play ‘Grauzonen‘ at Staatstheater Braunschweig. He dives deep into the symbioses between styles and genres, engages in genrebending concert programs, the connection between modernity and tradition, and the bringing together of classical literature with his own compositions, improvisation and electronic media.