- Schubert-Berio: Rendering, for orchestra
- Stanze, for baritone, chorus & orchestra
For any admirer of the great Italian composer Luciano Berio (1925-2003), this release requires no special recommendation, as it includes the world premiere recording of his final work, Stanze. Scored for baritone soloist, male chorus, and orchestra, it was completed mere weeks before Berio's death and first performed in January 2004 by Dietrich Henschel and the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach. Those performances yielded the present recording, which reveals Stanze to be a work of great poetic power and a worthy capstone to Berio's career. Setting texts of Paul Celan, Edoardo Sanguineti, and three others, the score addresses issues of mortality and leave-taking, and if its mostly somber tone is no real departure for Berio, there is inevitably an added layer of poignancy under the circumstances. Henschel's singing -- his voice often reminiscent of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's -- is the linchpin in this performance, linking the hovering clusters and fractured sound masses of Berio's orchestration and providing a compelling human presence to guide us toward the solemn conclusion. Berio's Rendering, a reworking of sketches for an incomplete Schubert symphony, makes an appropriate pairing for Stanze. No straightforward "completion" of the Schubert symphony, Rendering places Berio's own newly composed music in dialogue with the traces of Schubert's -- one of several works in which this composer created imaginative relationships between past and present, including even an extended reference to Johann Strauss' Tritsch-Tratsch Polka in the fourth movement of Stanze. Listeners who are new to Berio should not hesitate: Rendering and Stanze are among his most immediate and accessible works and would make a fine starting point for exploring his highly individual musical career.