This powerful record brings together two of the most seminal works for viola and orchestra of the twentieth century. Although these pieces are as different as they are similar, together they form a distinct balance of sentiment and execution.
Das Orchester der Beethovenhalle Bonn, seit 1995 unter der Leitung von Marc Soustrot, wurde 1897 in Koblenz als Philharmonisches Orchester gegründet und zehn Jahre später von der Stadt Bonn übernommen. Erst 1957, mit Errichtung der Beethovenhalle, erhielt es seinen jetzigen Namen. Von großen Dirigenten geleitet hat sich das Orchester in der deutschen und internationalen Musikszene etabliert. Soustrot gehört zu den wenigen französischen Dirigenten, die sich nicht auf Konzert oder Oper spezialisiert haben und daher über vielseitige Erfahrungen in beiden Bereichen verfügen…
Markus Stenz and the Gürzenich Orchestra Köln have demonstrated a special aptitude for performing large scale post-Romantic works, notably the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, which they recorded for Oehms Classics as a series of hybrid SACDs. They have followed that impressive cycle with what is probably the most Mahlerian work Arnold Schoenberg ever composed, the massive Gurrelieder for solo voices, multiple choruses, and large orchestra. This 2015 Hyperion release is impressive in its crisp details, vibrant tone colors, and startling clarity, all of which are evident in the opening instrumental passages in the Prelude, and which continue through the nearly operatic vocal parts, which have remarkable presence in the face of an orchestra that exceeds Wagnerian proportions. The recording is presented on two CDs that offer extraordinary sound for digital stereo, and the only disappointment is that this wasn't released as a multichannel recording. Listeners who find Schoenberg's modernist music difficult may be more receptive to this cantata, which is his most openly Romantic score and strongly reminiscent of Wagner's music dramas. Highly recommended.
The world premieres of Iolanta and The Nutcracker took place on 18 December 1892 at St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre. “The execution of both,” wrote the composer to his brother Anatoly the next day, “was magnificent, and that of the ballet perhaps too magnificent – its brilliance made one’s eyes tired.” Gustav Mahler conducted the first performance of the one-act opera outside Russia on 3 January 1893 in Hamburg and also directed the Viennese premiere of Iolanta on 22 March 1900.
It is a story made for the stage: Francesca da Rimini is a deceived woman-in-love who disregards her arranged marriage, decides that she has the perfect right to true love, and ends up murdered. Dante originally wrote a few verses on this subject, but some decades later Boccaccio expanded the sketch into a tale containing all the ingredients of a genuine tragedy. In 1901 Gabriele D'Annunzio drew on this material to pen a scandalous fin de siecle drama.
The first release of the first stereo recording of the work, the historical importance of this set of Wagner's Siegfried is undeniable. Recorded by Decca at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival, this performance directed by Joseph Keilberth was to have been issued as part of the first complete Ring cycle. But persuaded that only a studio recording could do the work justice, Decca decided to shelve Keilberth's performance, a decision that led to Georg Solti recording Siegfried with the Vienna Philharmonic and ultimately to the release of a Ring cycle that many still regard as the finest ever recorded. But aside from its inherent historical value, what's its aesthetic value? While much better than average, Keilberth's Siegfried doesn't challenge the established order.
Die Komponistengeneration Österreichs, der Horst Ebenhöh angehört, deckt - wie es ähnlich wohl auch früher gewesen war - stilistisch und kompositionstechnisch das ganze zur Zeit erfassbare Spektrum des vom Menschen Denk- und Hörbaren ab und ist unendlich weit gestreut.
Blickt man auf die zweite Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts zurück, erkennt man, dass sich einerseits in der jeweils kontemporären Musik vieles im Sinne der Avantgarde verändert hat, andererseits, dass vieles im Sinne der Tradition fast unverändert erhalten geblieben ist.