Heinrich August Marschner was the most important composer of German opera between Weber and Wagner. To the extent that he is still remembered, it is largely for his operas Hans Heiling (1833), Der Vampyr (1828), and Der Templer und die Jüdin (1829), extremely popular in his lifetime. Marschner’s ability to depict supernatural horror by musical means is especially evident in the first two operas as well as in some of his ballads, such as "Die Monduhr". Next to his operas, Marschner's most significant musical contribution is to the Lied. The best of his works in this form are comparable with those by Carl Loewe.
…Heinrich Marschner's operatic oeuvre presents us with a constant reminder of the great German operatic tradition that preceded him and the glorious one that followed him. It is commonplace to regard Marschner (1795-1861) as the most important composer of German romantic opera between Weber and Wagner–a not-so-enviable position, especially considering the debates on romantic opera that flared up in the nineteenth century. E. T. A. Hoffmann regarded romantic opera as the "only true one, for only in the realm of romanticism is music at home." Hoffmann's aesthetics of opera were allegorically presented in his 1813 essay Der Dichter und der Komponist ("The Poet and the Composer"), later included in his Serapionsbruder…
Der Freischutz is one of the great milestones in the history of opera. The resounding success of its premiere in 1821 practically made it a manifesto for German Romantic opera, one that would become a significant formative influence on Wagner. Although it has its roots in the Singspiel tradition exemplified by Mozart's Die Zauberflote, Der Freischutz cut new ground with its potent mixture of supernatural elements, dreams, folk melodies, evocations of nature, and symphonic tone painting.
Harpsichordist Martha Cook here records Bach's Kunst der Fuge, BWV 1080 (The Art of the Fugue), with a specific interpretive framework in mind. The work, Cook believes, was devotional and intimate in intent; it is, she writes, a "musical prayer," and it embodies the parables and exhortation found in the biblical Book of Luke, 14:27-35. Interested readers are invited to consult the booklet for more details. Making the supposition work involves discarding the version of the work published after Bach's death by C.P.E. Bach and others, and it also involves some of the numerology that so often seems to crop up in connection with Bach's larger works. There's some justification in earlier German music for regarding Bach's instrumental music in this programmatic way; Bach would have known the Biblische Historien keyboard sonatas of 1700 by one of his key predecessors, Johann Kuhnau. But what's missing is any evidence of why Bach, by the end of his life a revered figure, might have wanted to embed secret messages in Die Kunst der Fuge. The unalloyed good news is that you can disregard the stated method of interpretation and listen to the performance in the abstract. It's very powerful.