Frank MARTIN (1890-1974)
Six Monologues from Jedermann (1943-49) [20:43]
Three Excerpts from Der Sturm (1952-54) [21:22]
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (baritone)
Berliner Philharmoniker/Frank Martin
Werner EGK (1901-1983)
The Temptation of St. Anthony (1945) [21:40]
Janet Baker (mezzo); Koeckert Quartet
Strings of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Werner Egk
rec. May 1960, Philharmonie, Berlin (Martin); November 1965, Residenz, Herkulesaal, Munich (Egk). ADD
full tracklist at end of review

Brilliant’s compact with Deutsche Grammophon continues to bring forth analogue wonders. Sure there’s a distant whisper of hiss but the sound-core is in glorious heart. It revives memories of how analogue sounded when played on a fine turntable and while in premium condition.

Fischer-Dieskau finds the full focused measure of the Jedermann Monologues in bitterness, contempt and disdain. Martin is completely at one with the totally committed Berliner Philharmoniker. There is some remission in the tenderness of Ja! Ich glaub: solches hat er vollbrecht (No. 5). It’s also there towards the end of the final song. However the arching spine of this cycle radiates awed horror. Gripping stuff. The words are Hugo von Hoffmansthal.

Martin’s first opera took Shakespeare’s The Tempest as its subject and did so in the German translation by A W Schlegel. It was written after Martin had moved to the Netherlands. Its premiere took place at the Vienna State Opera on 18 June 1956. As with the Jedermann piece this is in Martin’s developed and personalised tonal language. He leaves behind the caustic anger of Jedermann and aptly finds tenderness and sombre enchantment. The Prelude evinces these qualities most potently while striking glancing familiarity off Sibelius and Martinu. Fischer-Dieskau’s stern majesty is well suited to the two monologues and adroitly reflects Prospero’s character. He find tenderness and magical faery qualities too (tr. 8 1:24); in this he is aided by racing gauzy writing.

Werner Egk is little known. Bavarian born as Werner Mayer he later took the surname Egk. He was a pupil of Carl Orff in Munich where he first earned a crust as director of a cinema orchestra. His opera Die Zaubergeige became very popular after its Frankfurt premiere in 1935. His 1941 appointment as chair of the Reichsmusikkammer cast a shadow and he further encountered controversy with his ballet Abraxas was banned by the Bavarian Ministry of Culture in 1948. His three act opera Peer Gynt (1938) earned him celebrity and can be heard on the Orfeo label which also harbours three of his other operas. There were to be many more operatic works. There’s also a 1928 violin concerto.

As for The Temptation of St. Anthony its stylistic range encompasses Stravinskian neo-classicism, Canteloube-like romance and even a touch of Warlock the antiquarian. Janet Baker is in fine sweet voice without the over-full fruity tone she was soon to develop. The string writing is tender and hoarse with a touch of the alkaline tartness of Warlock’s string quartet writing. On vit des Démons straddles the worlds of Pulcinella and Canteloube. The concertante role of the Koeckert Quartet adds salt and pepper. That savoury string writing develops a rawness yet is lovingly textured and tiered with a defiant yet yielding quality.

The note is by Paul Griffiths and is taken from the original DG CD reissue of 1991 on their 20th Century Classics series (429858). No sung texts or translations I am afraid.

Classic 1960s vintage recordings of twentieth century works for voice and orchestra in and toweringly potent composer-directed performances.

Rob Barnett

Classic 1960s vintage recordings of twentieth century works for voice and orchestra in and toweringly potent performances.

Full track listing:

Six Monologues From Jedermann
1. No. 1 Ist Alls Zu End Das Freudenmahl [4:11]
2. No. 2 Ach Gott, wie graust mir vor dem Tod [3:45]
3. No. 3 Ist als wenn eins gerufen hätt [2:47]
4. No. 4 So wollt ich ganz zernichtet sein [2:16]
5. No. 5 Ja! Ich glaub: solches hat er vollbracht [2:59]
6. No. 6 O ewiger Gott! O göttliches Gesicht! [4:42]
Three Excerpts from Der Sturm
7. No. 1 Overture [8:11]
8. No. 2 Mein Ariel! [8:15]
9. No.3 Hin sind meine Zauberei’n [4:58]
The Temptation of St. Anthony
10. No. 1 Ciel! l’Univers va-t-il donc se dissoudre? [1:44]
11. No. 2 C’étoit ainsi, c’étoit ainsi [1:07]
12. No. 3 On vit sortir d’une grotte profonde [2:14]
13. No. 4 On vit des Démons, de tous les cantons [1:13]
14. No. 5 Quelques-uns prirent le cochon [1:29]
15. No. 6 Sur un sopha [2:42]
16. No. 7 Ronflant comme un cochon [1:06]
17. No. 8 Courez vite, prenez le patron [1:26]
18. No. 9 Le saint, craignant de pécher [2:03]
19. No. 10 Piqué dans ce bachanal [2:29]
20. No. 11 Tel qu’un voleur, sitôt qu’il voit main forte [2:40]
21. No. 12 Ah! mon Dieu! que je l’échappe belle! [0:48]
22. No. 13 Le Démon, quoiqu’il passe pour fin [1:39]