- Violin Concerto No.1
- Violin Concerto No.3
- Violin Concerto No. 2, for bass-baritone, violin, 33 instruments & tape
Composed over wide time intervals, Hans Werner Henze's three "Violin Concertos" represent key stages of his development, and mark his early efforts in twelve-tone composition, his mature phase of experimental political theater, and his late, emotionally charged programmatic style. The "Concerto No. 1" (1948) is similar in some respects to Alban Berg's "Violin Concerto," particularly in Henze's blending of the row with tonal features; yet in its comparative leanness and transparency, this piece is less like Berg than the complex "Concerto No. 3" (1997), which, in its intense evocation of Thomas Mann's Doktor Faustus, shares much more of the passionate and disturbing colors and textures of "Wozzeck" or "Lulu." But Henze's most avant-garde work in this two-disc set is the "Concerto No. 2 for solo violinist, recorded tape, bass baritone, and 33 instrumentalists" (1971), which employs Hans Magnus Enzensberger's text "Hommage à Gödel" and stage antics to make its point. Listeners seeking an easy introduction to Henze's music should try Disc 1, since these works are more conventional, and violinist Torsten Janicke and the Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Christian Ehwald, give richly colored and expressive performances. Disc 2, on the other hand, is really for adventurous listeners, and this long, raucous work's live performance is a lot less enjoyable, due to the unfocused and occasionally indistinct reproduction.