> MATTHUS Das Land Phantasien 0017412 [HC]: Classical Reviews- February 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Siegfried MATTHUS (born 1934)
Das Land Phantásien (1995)
Michael Heltau (narrator); Bruckner Orchester Linz; Ingo Ingensand
Recorded : Brucknerhaus, Linz, December 2000
BERLIN CLASSICS 0017412 BC [50:30]

Das Land Phantásien, an orchestral fantasy on The Never Ending Story, is scored for narrator and large orchestra. It may thus be considered as some sort of sequel to the much better-known works by Poulenc (LíHistoire de Babar), Prokofiev (Peter and the Wolf), Howard Blake (The Snowman and Granpa) and the more rarely heard Betje Trompet en de Reus by the Belgian composer Louis De Meester, the latter work being a much neglected, though highly entertaining piece of music. The layout of the piece is similar to that of most of these pieces in that the narration is generally commented upon by the music. There is indeed very little melodrama here. Matthus, as his predecessors, managed to remain his own self throughout and he never writes down to his younger audience. The music is obviously from the same pen as that of the Cello Concerto and the symphony, reviewed elsewhere. It is of course more fragmentary as incidental music often is, but the whole is tied together by a few recurring themes. To some extent, Matthusís piece might be A Young Manís Guide to Contemporary Music, and, as such, might become as popular as its illustrious predecessors.

In the present recording, the narration is of course in German and, though the text is printed in the insert notes, there is no English translation. Nevertheless, this little-known piece for younger (and not so young) audiences is superbly done and should appeal to wide audiences. For anecdoteís sake, let us mention that Matthus came to write this piece at the instigation of Kurt Masur who once gave him a copy of the book suggesting that Matthus should write an opera based on this text. Matthus uses some material from that opera which he is working on and another ballet score listed by his publisher, though the ballet might be the same piece as the one recorded here. Very fine and highly entertaining, and I hope that there might soon be a recording with an English or French narration for I am fully convinced that Das Land Phantásien should and could become a highly popular work with younger audiences.

Hubert Culot

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