HANS WERNER HENZE (b.1926): Symphony No. 9 for Mixed Choir and Orchestra.
Catalogue Number: 12L081
Reference: WER 6722-2
Description: Confronted by the '9th Symphony problem', Henze neither superstitiously attempted to avoid it, like Mahler, nor snarkily sidestepped it, like Shostakovich, but met it head on with a massive choral symphony, exemplifying his belief in the symphony as 'a forum for musical discussion with a large audience, appropriate for pronouncements that go beyond the private'. The text is based on the novel 'The Seventh Cross' by Anna Seghers, an important anti-fascist - specifically anti-Nazi work of literature, and very much in keeping with Henze's own anti-fascist views and his wish to address 'German Issues'. The language of the music is wide-ranging, even including theatrical elements - whistles, sirens, the terrifying intrusion of an organ in an episode suggesting the futility of religion to relieve the practical suffering of the persecuted, all reminding us of Henze's pre-eminence as composer for the stage. But the whole is bound together in a cohesive, if unorthodox, seven-movement symphonic structure, based in tonality (German romanticism viewed through a Busonian prism), though allowing quarter-tone and highly dissonant gestures to heighten the sense of despair at the decay of a society in which the events of the text were possible. German-English texts. Berlin Radio Choir and Symphony Orchestra; Marek Janowski.