HANS WERNER HENZE (1926-2012): Lieder von einer Insel for Chamber Choir and 7 Instruments, Orpheus Behind the Wire for A cappella Choir, 5 Madrigale for Small Mixed Choir and 11 Instruments.
Catalogue Number: 11T049
Label: SWR Music
Description: An interesting juxtaposition on choral works from different stages of Henze's career. The Madrigale were written just after WWII, setting free German translations from Villon's Grand testament. The work is tonal and broadly neoclassical, with a sardonic bitonal bite when called upon by the texts, and some great moments of over-the-top melodramatic exaggeration. The Lieder von einer Insel of 1963 sets texts by Ingeborg Bachmann from ten years earlier, when Henze was revelling in his arrival in Italy, which seemed to offer a sun-drenched paradise of freedom compared to his earlier life. The music is relatively complex and stylistically varied, and by no means as tonal as Henze's early and late works, though it avoids his most experimental or serial phases. Orpheus is an example of the social commentary that was a constant theme throughout Henze's career. The poems, by Edward Bond, were written to accompany a ballet on the Orpheus myth, with the clear social subtext of individual humans oppressed and toyed with by the 'state' - the uncaring, dictatorial gods. The work was written well into the composer's sojourn in Italy, in 1983, by which time his music had taken on a harmonic warmth and opulence in his own brand of neo-romanticism. The four-part a cappella setting employs sophisticated subdivision of voices, into as many as 12 parts in places, and vocal techniques, but nevertheless remains cool and detached, beautiful but distant, open in texture but obscure in meaning. German-English texts. SWR Vocal Ensemble, Ensemble Modern; Marcus Creed.