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)
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‘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.’
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‘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.
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C 968 191long and exceptionally fruitful creative life, Richard Strauss (1864–1949) composed only a few works for the cello. Only three have survived and small as that number may seem, those cello works are critical to the composer’s development. Daniel Müller-Schott sees the early Sonata for cello and piano op. 6 and the late tone poem “Don Quixote” op. 35 as marking the path that was to lead Strauss within the space of a few years from Romanticism to the Modern era in music. The cellist highlights this watershed in Strauss’s artistic development with his own transcriptions, expressly made for this CD, of the Lieder “Zueignung” op. 10/1 and “Ich trage meine Minne” op. 32/1.
Chormusik & Oratorien
Edition zeitgenössisches Lied
Symphonie & Konzert