EMI's Twentieth Century Classics
line (see below) continues
to yield otherwise elusive and rewarding material in return for
Henze towers over European music in a way that is warmer and
less intimidating than Stockhausen. While of German birth his
music is imbued with a Mediterranean emotionalism. In years gone
by you may have experimented with his six symphonies on a two
CD set from DG. I reviewed the Accord
of his Tenth Symphony five or years ago. Now two symphonies issued
in the intervening years are gathered in this slim-line set.
is symphonic in mien. It was written
in memoriam Paul Dessau, a DDR composer. A long and reflective
piece, it has its moments of angry outburst rather like Britten's Sinfonia
. It at times operates like a Bergian Isle of
although it is richly allusive and its moods are
in constant laval flux. The piece ends in a ethereally spectral
The Seventh Symphony
is in four fantastic movements.
These at times gaze into the chasm. The language is not really
dissonant and the lyrical line is always in evidence. There is
much that is starrily Bergian - try the magical Ruhig Bewegt
- yet not 'difficult'. The nineteenth century German poet Hölderlin
is a presence in the last two of the four movements. The third
movement seemingly portrays the poet's confinement to an asylum
and becomes increasingly hectic, whooping, ringing and groaning.
Malcolm Macdonald in his note gets the essentials across in quintessential
concentration. He tells us that the finale is evocative of a
cold world from which mankind has disappeared. This cauterised
planetary desolation is strangely comforting with none of Pettersson's
alienation. Instead we get a consolatory singing and a far from
self-effacing magnificence of nature. Most impressive. It was
a generous and sensible measure to conflate the Henze segment
of a Bostridge song anthology with Metzmacher's Henze 9. This
conductor recorded a complete Hartmann initially in a series
of individual imaginatively programmed mixed orchestral discs
and later a complete EMI
of just the symphonies.
Henze's Ninth Symphony
in seven movements and the vocal element is carried by a choir
without soloists. Sadly we are not given the sung text in the
booklet - really the only substantial criticism of this admirable
set. The texts are by Hans-Ulrich Treichel based on a novel 'The
Seventh Cross' by Anna Seghers. The texts, rich in allusion,
recount episodes in a fugitive's flight from the Nazis. The music
surges, rides high on a certain wonderfully eerie ecstasy (Die
(IV)), evokes cataclysm and horror. It makes
for a richly stocked emotional palette. Percussion is used in
profuse variety especially in the rattle, scrape and bell-haunted Bericht
(III). The single largest movement of the seven
is Nachts in Dom
(VI) at 17:07. In the finale a slow-shifting
peace pervades in music somewhere between Delius and Zemlinsky.
The last few pages have the choir evoking a golden glow.
three Auden Songs
are English language settings.
The music is lyrical, impulsive, pierrot-ghoulish and emotional
yet without abandon. Bostridge is at his unaffected finest.
The sound throughout is very clear and carries Henze's music
to our ears with eloquence and every appearance of fidelity.
Reviews of other EMI 20th Century Classics releases