Missa solemnis was
C 999 201Beethoven’s response to the appointment of his student Archduke Rudolph (youngest brother of Emperor Franz I of Austria) as Archbishop of Olmütz in 1819. He set to work spontaneously, without a direct commission. He planned for the piece to be completed on the occasion of Rudolph’s enthronement, on 19 March 1820, but the work proved to be much more of a challenge for the composer than he had anticipated. Accordingly, the premiere did not take place for another four years, on 7 April 1824, at a charity concert given by the Philharmonic Society of St Petersburg.
Missa solemnis still faces challenges today. This extraordinary work does not appear in the concert repertoire as often as it used to some years ago. “The world of shareholder values doesn’t care for Christ”, as Michael Gielen said. He believed that this is one reason for the difficulties the work seems to cause audiences today.
Michael Gielen, who passed away in March 2019, can be heard in this historic recording from 1985 with the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra.
ORFEO 1 CD C 995 201
Sharon Kam presents three
C 995 201clarinet concertos of the early Romantic era. Among them a new interpretation of Weber’s concerto, more “Rossini-like”. The Weber and the Crusell concerto were both composed in 1811.
Sharon Kam, one of the world’s leading clarinetists, continues her collaboration with ORFEO with a new album featuring romantic clarinet concertos by three composers.
“After 20 years of recording the Weber concerto with Kurt Masur, I see and feel this piece very differently. I now try to play it more lightly, more ‘Rossini-like’, than the heavier romantic approach I previously adopted”, she explains.
Together with Bernhard Henrik Crusell’s concerto (composed in the same year - 1811 - as Weber’s) and that by the Polish composer Karol Kurpiński, (which still remains unknown), this album is a diverse survey of early Romantic-era clarinet concertos.
ORFEO 2 CD C 990 202
Following Chopin’s Études and
C 990 202Schubert’s 8 Impromptus, Amir Katz now presents an all-Liszt programme on his fifth album for ORFEO. The booklet is written by Amir Katz and contains transcriptions of testimonies of Liszt’s students.
Liszt’s Études represent a peak in the history of piano writing. Beyond the tremendous technical difficulties, Liszt’s Études are poetic works, études tableaux, suggesting programme music influenced by literature, painting, and folklore as can be identified by titles such as Mazeppa, Wilde Jagd, Gnomenreigen and Feux follets. Similar to Schumann, Liszt added those lyrical headings as an afterthought to stimulate the fantasy of both the listener and the performer, thus paving the path to piano playing as we know it today.
“I have chosen to bring here authentic testimonies regarding the Études from the late masterclasses he gave in Weimar, Pest, and Rome in the early 1880s, just a few years before his death in 1886. The testimonies are given by his students Carl Lachmund, August Göllerich, Vianna da Motta and Arthur Friedheim. These precious testimonies provide us with an original and inspired illustration that faithfully represents Liszt’s masterclasses and his artistic calling.” – Amir Katz
ORFEO 1 CD C 989 201
Leoš Janá ek (1854–1928) composed the
C 989 201song cycle The Diary Of One Who Disappeared at a time when many people already considered him on a par with the other two masters of Czech national music, Smetana and Dvo ák. The inspiration for the autobiographical Diary came from a few enigmatic lines of poetry in two editions of the Lidove noviny (People’s Newspaper) published in May 1916.
Although this work is Janá ek’s most important original song cycle, his keen interest in the folk songs and dances of his Moravian homeland resulted in a plethora of arrangements, making this music accessible also for the classical concert hall. These include the Six folksongs sung by Eva Gabel (Šest národních písní jež zpívala Gabel Eva) and the Songs from Detva (Písneˇ detvanské). Quite unlike the songs of the Diary, which chiefly make reference to the Moravian dialect, the arrangements evince the typically ethnic-sounding music that Janá ek refined, so to speak, by adding a sophisticated piano part to adaptations of the existing melody lines, reflecting the tradition of the great song compositions of the 19th century.
Having explored songs by Mozart and Schubert on previous acclaimed albums, Slovak tenor Pavol Breslik now presents works by Czech composer Leoš Janá ek in his fourth album for ORFEO.
ORFEO 2 CD MP 1903
While Ludwig van Beethoven’s only
MP 1903opera Fidelio remains at home timelessly on all the major stages, concert audiences are usually only aware of the relevant overtures of the other stage music by the great composer. However, the eminently appealing music of Egmont with its beautiful and catchy songs and its energetic and melodious orchestral scores might be considered as Beethoven’s most interesting and worthwhile stage music after Fidelio.
Antonín Reicha’s dramatic cantata Lenore is the musical setting of the eponymous horror ballade by the German poet Gottfried August Bürger, famous today above all as the author of the tales concerning the Baron of the Lies, Münchhausen. In comparison with Beethoven (who is said greatly to have admired Reicha’s Lenore and even to have recommended it be performed), in musical terms Reicha’s cantata does not point into the future despite all its onomatopoetic effects, but takes its bearings audibly from the epic oratorio style of Reicha’s mentor and friend, Joseph Haydn.
ORFEO 2 CD C 986 192
Daniel François-Esprit Auber (1782–1871)
C 986 192was the most amiable French composer of the 19th century. His sparkling and beautiful overtures were once universally as famous as those of Rossini and Suppé. The greatest turning point in Auber’s life was meeting the librettist Eugène Scribe (1791–1861), with whom he developed a long and hugely successful working partnership. Success followed success; works such as Le Maçon (1825) and La Muette de Portici (1828) brought Auber public fame and official recognition.
Le Cheval de bronze, an opéra-féerique in three acts, derived from the tale Les Sept Fils du Calender (‘The Arabian Nights’), unfolds in Shantung province in a fairy tale China of long ago. The magical Bronze Horse of the title, appearing mysteriously on a nearby hill, will transport any man who climbs onto its back to the planet Venus, home to group of female sirens, led by the lovely Princess Stella. If the traveler in space can resist the sirens’ advances, he can return to earth with the lady of his choice; if not, he is whisked back alone, and turned to stone if he speaks of his experiences…
ORFEO 9 CD C 987 199
Andris Nelsons, currently principal
C 987 199conductor of both the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, was discovered by Orfeo as someone to be promoted on album. Orfeo had engaged him to conduct the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in recordings of Shostakovich’s two violin concertos with soloist Arabella Steinbacher. It quickly became apparent that, in him, they had one of the great conductors of his generation in the making, a development that took place at breathtaking speed. Following his appointment as principal conductor and music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orfeo persuaded him to take on a number of ambitious recording projects: Tchaikovsky’s complete symphonies (the first three were recorded but not released following Nelsons’ departure to Boston); symphonic poems and other orchestral works by Richard Strauss; and works by Stravinsky and Shostakovich. In so doing, Orfeo was able to faithfully record the legacy of his time at Birmingham, which proved the first major international step in Andris Nelsons’ career.
ORFEO 1 CD C 985 191
Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1871) was long considered as one of the most typically French and most successful opera composers of the 19th century.
C 985 191His overtures were once favourites of the light Classical repertoire.
This opéra français, first performed on 3 May 1825, relates to the venerable tradition of the rescue opera, topical since the French Revolution. Both book and score were equally successful. The opera represents a decisive development in Aubers style, a turning away from imitation of Rossini to Boieldieu’s simplicity and thereby to a specifically French tradition. It was the first of Auber’s mature opéra-comiques, an international success, characterized by an Italianate sparkle with French grace and lyricism.
The work remained in the repertoire from 1825 to 1896 and was performed 525 times. By the 1850s it had been translated into German, Danish, Swedish, Polish, Czech and Hungarian. On German stages this opera remained one of Auber’s most popular works, given as late as 1950 in Vienna.
ORFEO 1 CD C 984 191
After J. S. Bach’s solo cello suites in the early 18th century, the genre experienced a fallow period until Zoltán Kodály set the pace with a monumental sonata for solo cello in 1915.
C 984 191It inspired a variety of similar works, but Kodály’s 30-minute sonata still stands “like Mount Everest”, to quote Daniel Müller-Schott, the soloist on this recording. His programme also includes music by Prokofiev, Hindemith, Henze, Crumb and Casals, and features a work of his own for the first time: Cadenza continues the tradition of compositions that other cellists have always added to their recital programmes. “Here, you can recognise influences of the solo works that have influenced me over the years. In Cadenza, the contrasting elements of the world of my instrument appear in the closest space – the cello in pure lyricism, just as sequences catapulting themselves into the highest registers in rhythmical savagery and immediately concluding the movement after a final culmination.” (Daniel Müller-Schott)
ORFEO 1 CD C 934 191
‘From the very beginning,
C 934 191I had enormous respect for Die Winterreise, because it demands everything from the narrator. Whenever I open a page where I have set the notes aside to gain a fresh view, I have new questions. And sometimes I don’t find an answer to everything. This ‘process’ never stops.’ – Pavol Breslik
With his 3rd Lieder album for Orfeo, Pavol Breslik sets foot on the Mount Olympus of German song with Schubert’s Winterreise. His recording of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin (C737151) was internationally acclaimed, telling us that he has further depth of thought about the masterwork on this recording:
‘We artists are always strongly influenced by the work we are just doing. We put our entire soul into it and do our very utmost to present it to the listener. Only whoever has really felt suffering, can sing about suffering. Here, it is a question of authenticity.’
ORFEO 1 CD C 983 191
‘Sharon Kam is a clarinetist with an exceptionally wide expressive range.’ – Edward Greenfield
Sharon Kam is one of the world’s leading clarinetists. For her debut album on Orfeo (and performing for the first time in this trio line-up),
C 983 191she delivers a dramatic, sharply contrasting programme that is presented chronologically. Performing with her brother Ori Kam (viola) and the pianist Matan Porat, the programme begins and ends with music by Mozart and Bartók, the latter's Contrasts producing possibly the most original and captivating contribution to the repertoire for this combination of instruments. In between are works by Schumann and Brahms that contain multi-layered biographical references and are closely related in their romantic spirit.
ORFEO 1 CD C 950 191
For her eighth album on Orfeo, Baiba Skride presents a programme of works by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. In addition to his own instrument,
C 950 191the piano, the violin remained the most important instrument for Bartók throughout his life. This is probably due to the fact that, with its subtle versatility and traditional associations, the violin was eminently suited to his folk music transcriptions and adaptations. This new recording demonstrates Baiba Skride’s facility in conveying this special Hungarian atmosphere. She's supported by the WDR Sinfonieorchester under Norwegian conductor Eivind Aadland.
Chormusik & Oratorien
Edition zeitgenössisches Lied
Symphonie & Konzert