- Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke, for contralto & orchestra - Frank Martin - Musikkollegium Winterthur - Rainer Maria Rilke - Jac van Steen
Martin: Die Weise von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke [Hybrid SACD]by Christianne Stotijn
Much to Rainer Maria Rilke's dismay, his 1899 extended prose poem, "Die Weise" von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Christoph Rilke," was a magnet for composers, and the author is on record as having only contempt for musical settings of his work. Nonetheless, composers have continued to overlook Rilke's wishes, creating pieces based on the writing as diverse as Henri Sauguet's song cycle, Viktor Ullmann's orchestral work with speaker, and Siegfried Matthus' opera. The setting that has most firmly established itself is Frank Martin's 1943 hour-long cycle for contralto and orchestra, a work that affirms Martin's status as an unjustly neglected master of the mid-twentieth century. Martin's music doesn't have a flashy surface, and he lacks the uniquely recognizable voice of someone like Hindemith or Poulenc or Copland, but the psychological insights he brings to his music, particularly to his narrative works, have a profound integrity and a stunning dramatic impact. An example is the penultimate song in "Die Weise," in which the protagonist, a seventeenth century Austrian soldier in battle against the Ottoman Empire, finds himself surrounded by enemy troops. Martin focuses on the soldier's overwhelmed mental state, in which the unbearable reality is perceived through a slow-moving, impressionistically woozy hallucinatory haze that's far more chilling than a violent depiction of the traumatic scene would have been. This kind of understated but revelatory musical psychology is typical of Martin's work, and marks this cycle as a masterpiece that deserves to be explored by anyone intrigued by the transcendence that can be created by the alchemy of music and text. Contralto Christianne Stotijn is fabulously effective in the grueling solo part; her voice is warm, powerful, and absolutely secure throughout the work's wide range, and she brings just the right balance of passion and restraint to the music. Jac van Steen conducts Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur in a performance that matches Stotijn's in its intensity and its polish. The sound of MDG's audiophile hybrid multichannel SACD is, as usual, strikingly natural and vibrant.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsChristianne Stotijn Primary Artist
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