This disc explores that rarity of the classical repertoire, the harp concerto. The musical characteristics of the harp can provide somewhat of a challenge for the composer if writing a concerto for the instrument, but this disc boasts two wonderful examples that show seemingly endless possibilities.
Mining the archive uncovers this treasurable performance.
"Glorious" and "sublime" were among the epithets applied to the playing of Dresden's "Royal Chapel" ensemble when Mahler's Fourth Symphony was first performed in the city in 1908. Both epithets could be applied to the playing on this latter-day realisation under Giuseppe Sinopoli. Richard Osborne, August 2008 GRAMOPHONE
Axel Köhler's production of "Der Freischütz" at the Dresden State Opera was described by Die Presse as 'a minor miracle in Dresden'. In the words of the Salzburger Nachrichten, Köhler 'scored a bullseye' with his sombre and satanic interpretation of Weber's Romantic opera about love, temptation, souls sold to the Devil, obsession and faith. According to the Financial Times, Christian Thielemann and the Dresden Staatskapelle conjured up a sense of 'mortal terror from the orchestra pit. […] Thielemann is in command of every detail. That makes for utterly gripping listening'.
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.
Here’s a collection unrivalled in its scope within the current catalogue, of orchestral works by one of the most prolific of 20th-century, Paul Hindemith, whose reputation as a purveyor of ‘useful’ music has perhaps overshadowed his colourful orchestrations and often powerfully dramatic transformations of a wide range of extra-musical inspirations. His masterpiece may be the opera he based on the life and work of the painter of the Isenheim alterpiece, Matthias Grünewald, but the Mathis der Maler symphony he derived from its music is hardly less emotive.
The Dresden Staatskapelle has a living Bruckner tradition, stretching back a century and more, which is lovingly curated by its new music director, Christian Thielemann, who is himself a powerful advocate for the composer’s symphonies as the pinnacle of the Austro-German tradition; and in particular for the Wagnerian resonances of the Seventh, whose Adagio was shaped by news of Wagner’s death in Venice. Hugo Wolf was also deeply affected by that news; his songs, like Bruckner’s symphonies, can be seen as oblique reflections on the influence of Wagner, especially when sung, as they are here by Renée Fleming, with the utmost delicacy and intimacy.
Not so under Jochum, whose new performance is grand, powerful, spontaneous. Aided by powerful sound, the performance is like no other in its power and impact though it partially resembles the Furtwangler in general intention. It is a more daemonic reading than the early Karajan or the Haitink. dramatic rather than epic but with a huge scope all of its own.
Hélène Grimaud's performances on this disc a coupling of Beethoven "Emperor" Piano Concerto with his Piano Sonata in A major, Op. 101 are truly fantastic. Her technique is essentially untouchable and her tone is surprisingly colorful. And, as in her previous recordings, her interpretations are outrageous. With Vladimir Jurowski and the Dresden Staatskapelle in the Concerto, Grimaud is unafraid to do whatever she wants with balance and tempos.