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MIKHAIL GLINKA

Piano Variations · A Greeting to my Homeland · Nocturnes
TON NU NGUYET MINH, piano

C5285 PC: 21 845221052854

In Russia, it is said that Pushkin was the sun of poetry, but Glinka the Pushkin of music, a sublime degree of domestic veneration. In St. Petersburg, Glinka was for a short time among the pupils of the Irish pianist and composer John Field. Field’s performance and style remained ideals for Glinka throughout his life. Like the early works by Frédéric Chopin, who was also influenced by Field and Hummel, Glinka’s piano works follow this ‘brilliant style’, which might equally be termed ‘instrumental bel canto’.

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Walter Braunfels: Grosse Messe op. 37

SCHNEIDER · ROMBERGER · ELSNER · HOLL
PHILHARMONISCHER CHOR BERLIN · BERLINER SINGAKADEMIE · KNABEN DES STAATS- UND DOMCHORES BERLIN · KONZERTHAUSORCHESTER BERLIN · JÖRG-PETER WEIGLE

C5267 PC: 21 UPC: 845221052670

Braunfels’ hand at drama and his careful consideration of the text betrays the opera composer, not only in the Te Deum, but also in the Great Mass which he finished in 1926. Braunfels was at the height of his (from thereon never waning) musical powers and fame. The Great Mass isn’t a liturgical work; the Mass speaks directly and very audibly from a sincere spiritual urge. “He is a high-romantic, solidly anchored in the German composition- culture, and yet he has a very unique language – sensationally well-orchestrated, as it happens – about him, which makes it so fascinating” (Weigle).

 

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ANTON BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 · Mass No. 3

ZIESAK · BAECHLE · BRUNS · GROISSBÖCK
WIENER SINGAKADEMIE · RSO VIENNA RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA · CORNELIUS MEISTER

2CD-SET: C5247 PC: 21 (Special Price) UPC: 845221052472

What a struggle the work posed for the composer emerges from the circumstance that he already embarked on it in the late summer of 1887, but had not completed it by his death nine years later. If we take the existing music of the Ninth to hand, we will notice that only few symphonies evince such apparently ‘autonomous’ movements as this one – perhaps this very fact is a consequence of the absence of a finale rounding off the arch and concluding the dramaturgy. If Bruckner intended to dedicate the Ninth to ‘my dear God’, the Mass in F minor is a work of gratitude to God for recovery after a persistent nervous illness and physical exhaustion. Performed several times during Bruckner’s lifetime, the Mass in F minor has uninterruptedly ranked ahead of its sister works in D minor and E minor among the popular church choral works of late Romanticism.

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Jaromir Weinberger (1896-1967)

Overture to a Chivalrous Play (1931) · 6 Bohemian Songs and Dances (1929) · Passacaglia for organ and large orchestra (1932)
JÖRG STRODTHOFF, organ · DEUTSCHES SYMPHONIE-ORCHESTER BERLIN · GERD ALBRECHT

C5272 PC: 21 UPC: 845221052724

Even it is a legend that the Prague-born composer Jaromir Weinberger committed suicide in American exile because he had not succeeded for decades in following up his opera Schwanda the Bagpiper with any of his later works. Nevertheless, the legend contains a grain of truth. It shows a 71-year-old composer far away from his beloved homeland, which he had had to leave in the course of its occupation by the Nazis and which was meanwhile ruled by the Communists under Soviet influence. But in general, Weinberger was just as little able to integrate in North American music life as he managed to draw on his earlier time in Europe after 1945. A consideration of many works by Weinberger today will have to take events of the time into account, but at the same time we will hardly be able to avoid seeing direct or indirect references to his one big success Schwanda the Bagpiper in many works.

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STEPHANIE HOUTZEEL: Nostalgia

Ginastera · Ives · Mahler · Buchardo · Gustavino · Piazzolla
Stephanie Houtzeel, mezzo-soprano · Charles Spencer, piano

C5262 PC: 21 UPC: 845221052625

‘I am neither an Athenian, nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world’, Socrates is said to have uttered. He described himself as a cosmopolitan. A cosmopolitan was somebody who wanted to annul the dichotomy between being a polis member and a polis non-member by positioning himself in the overarching order of the cosmos. Along these lines,  the mezzo-soprano Stephanie Houtzeel may, of course, describe herself as a cosmopolitan. Born in Kassel,  she was raised in the vicinity of Boston, where she initially studied political science and French, then music at the New England Conservatory and the Juillard School in New York (she was the first winner of Juilliard’s Vocal Arts Debut Award). Since the autumn of 2010, she has been a member of the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera. So, the dramaturgically meticulously composed programme of her first recital should be viewed as being cosmopolitan. It is a journey through three stations, three world metropolises, Vienna, New York and Buenos Aires.

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