Hans Pfitzner: Von deutscher Seele

Hans Pfitzner: Von deutscher Seele

by Ingo Metzmacher
     
 
Prior to this 2008 release by Ingo Metzmacher, there had been five legitimate recordings of Hans Pfitzner's oratorio "Von deutscher Seele" listed in the international catalogs: the 1945 Clemens Krauss, the 1952 Eugen Jochum, the 1959 Joseph Keilberth, the 1986 Heinrich Hollreiser, and the 1999 Martin Sieghart. From this discography, two things are immediately apparent

Overview

Prior to this 2008 release by Ingo Metzmacher, there had been five legitimate recordings of Hans Pfitzner's oratorio "Von deutscher Seele" listed in the international catalogs: the 1945 Clemens Krauss, the 1952 Eugen Jochum, the 1959 Joseph Keilberth, the 1986 Heinrich Hollreiser, and the 1999 Martin Sieghart. From this discography, two things are immediately apparent: first, "Von deutscher Seele" was much more popular in the 15 years after the war than at any time since, and second, there does seem to be some signs of growth in interest in the work over the last 20 years. For those who don't already know the work -- which would presumably include most classical listeners -- "Von deutscher Seele" (On the German Soul) may require a brief introduction. Written in 1921 by avowedly nationalist German composer Hans Pfitzner, the work sets poetry by Joseph von Eichendorff for four soloists, mixed chorus, and large orchestra with its 24 movements divided into two equal parts: "Mensch und Natur" (Man and Nature) and "Leben und Singen" (Life and Singing). Pfitzner's music most resembles Schumann and Brahms, though there's a hint of Wagnerian chromaticism in his harmonies, but he does have his own voice, highly conservative, yes, but sincere, determined, and capable of telling a good joke, something one can say of few German composers in 1921. Given all that, how well does this 2008 recording of "Von deutscher Seele" with Ingo Metzmacher leading the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin hold up? Well enough: Metzmacher cut his conducting teeth leading performances of symphonies by Henze and Hartmann, and he certainly has the technique and dedication to pull off a persuasive performance. Here, he guides his forces through a confident and coherent performance that touches greatness in the orchestral interludes and the finale. The Berlin orchestra is polished and professional, the chorus weighty but articulate, and the soloists generally quite fine, though mezzo-soprano Nathalie Stutzmann proves particularly impressive. Compared with the two more recent performances by Hollreiser and Sieghart, Metzmacher's is much more convincing. Compared with the three performances from the postwar years, Metzmacher surpasses Keilberth's stodgy account but can't touch Jochum's sweep and Krauss' unwavering conviction. Of course, Phoenix Edition's clear, colorful sound is vastly superior to all but Sieghart's, to which it is only somewhat superior. In short, if you like Mahler's "Eighth" and want to try something similar but more echt Deutsch, you can't go wrong with Metzmacher's "Von deutscher Seele."

Product Details

Release Date:
10/28/2008
Label:
Phoenix Edition
UPC:
0811691011455
catalogNumber:
145

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Von deutscher Seele, cantata for soloists, chorus, organ & orchestra, Op 28

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