- Adagio, Fugue and Mänadentanz, suite from the opera "The Bassarids"
- Nachstücke und Arien, for soprano & orchestra
- Symphony No. 8
Hans Werner Henze: Symphonie No. 8; Nachtstücke und Arian; Die Bassaridenby Markus Stenz
Why there has not been a recording of Hans Werner Henze's 1993 "Eighth Symphony" before this 2004 recording is anyone's guess. The work is a masterfully scored, brilliantly evocative, and astoundingly beautiful three-movement piece based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. And yet this performance with Markus Stenz leading the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln is its first and only recording. Thankfully, it is an outstanding release in every way. Stenz clearly understands Henze's skillful blending of expressive lyricism and almost but not quiet atonal harmonies, and he forges them into a cogent and compelling whole. The highly polished and tremendously virtuosic Gürzenich-Orchester Köln plays Henze's demanding music with ease and there's no question of its dedication. Generously coupled with only the second recording of his "Nachtstücke und Arien" (here with soprano Claudia Barainsky) and the first recording of the orchestral suite from his opera "Die Bassariden," this disc ought to be mandatory listening for anyone interested in postwar European music. Phoenix Edition's digital sound is clean, but too recessed to let all the details of the scores come through.
- Release Date:
- Phoenix Edition
Performance CreditsMarkus Stenz Primary Artist
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One of the reasons I so admire Hans Werner Henze is that he is one of the least dogmatic of postwar composers. As fiercely modern as any of his contemporaries (i.e., Boulez, Nono), Henze has never succumbed to rote formulas, nor been afraid to embrace lush tonalities and textures. The three orchestral works on this disc provide ample evidence of his chameleon-like ability to synthesize seemingly disparate movements (neo-classicism, twelve-tone technique, serialism) into beguiling musical tapestries uniquely his own. First up is Henze¿s ¿Adagio, Fuge and Mänadentanz,¿ a musical suite based on his opera ¿Die Bassariden,¿ in which Henze wields massed symphonic forces to stunning effect. Extended string passages full of dark expressionistic corners are contrasted with moments of violent uplift that tread a fine line between dissonance and tonality. Breathtaking stuff. ¿Nachtstücke und Arien¿ (Nocturnes and Arias) is another highly atmospheric work, a four-movement suite comprised of instrumental and vocal pieces. The nocturnes are lush tone poems imbued with a nervous and at times aggressive lyricism. The arias, gloriously interpreted by soprano Claudia Barainsky, are unashamedly romantic in their evocation of longing and loss. Henze indulges his taste for grand theatrical effects in his ¿Sinfonia No. 8¿ (fittingly, as it¿s inspired by Shakespeare¿s ¿A Midsummer Night¿s Dream). Furiously paced, densely textured and darkly eloquent, the piece can be seen as an encapsulation of Henze¿s all-inclusive aesthetic. The music projects an almost overpowering scope that doesn¿t, however, inhibit its staggering range of emotional expression.