CPO deserves credit for reviving the works of talented but (politically speaking) stupid and or amoral composers such as Paul Graener. After all, the fact that he was an enthusiastic Nazi hardly matters now that he’s long dead (since 1944 to be precise), and why should we be denied what musical enjoyment he had to offer? In fact, only the colorful variations on Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter date from Graener’s Nazi period. The other two pieces on this second volume of his orchestral works were composed a couple of decades earlier.
The Symphony in D minor, subtitled “Schmiedt Schmerz” (or, “Sorrow the Blacksmith”) is a very typical, and very good example of traditional German Sturm undRead more Drang in three well-wrought movements. Its thematic material is top quality, and happily Grainer does not equate the usual German enthusiasm for symphonic misery with dullness. The Adagio features a climax of Brucknerian grandeur without inflicting on us Brucknerian length (it lasts only six minutes). You can sample the coda of the tumultuous first movement below.
Aus dem Reiche des Pan (“From Pan’s Kingdom”) is a brief, four movement suite full of luscious tunes and glittering orchestration. Although clearly from the same era as the music of Strauss, Korngold, and Zemlinsky, the music reveals none of their decadence. Harmonically, Graener was a conservative and so he remained throughout his career–one of the qualities that endeared him to the Nazis. He wasn’t a very good Nazi though: a British citizen despite his return to Germany, he also had too many Jewish friends ever to impress them with his Aryan purity, try though he might.
The performances here under Werner Andreas Albert are stunning. He and the Hanover orchestra tear into the music with overwhelming power and bravura, and they are magnificently recorded. This disc is even better than the initial release in CPO’s ongoing series, and if you collect music of this style and period, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Nazi, Schmazi. It’s a blast.
Symphony in D Minor, Op. 39, "Schmied Schmerz": I. Larghetto, Allegro (appasionato)
Symphony in D Minor, Op. 39, "Schmied Schmerz": II. Adagio
Symphony in D Minor, Op. 39, "Schmied Schmerz": III. Allegro energico
Aus dem Reiche des Pan in Op. 22: I. Pan traumt im Mondlicht
Aus dem Reiche des Pan in Op. 22: II. Pan singt von der Sehnsucht
Aus dem Reiche des Pan in Op. 22: III. Pan tanzt
Aus dem Reiche des Pan in Op. 22: IV. Pan singt das Welt-Wiegenlied
Variationen uber Prinz Eugen, Op. 108
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Twilight of a great traditionJuly 3, 2014By W. Murphy (Sacramento, CA)See All My Reviews"Sophisticated and attractive orchestrations -- Brucknerian? Richard Straussian? -- support melodies and harmonies that could have been more distinctive and adventurous. Symphony, completed in 1911, is in the late Romantic melodramatic tradition, soon to be made obsolete by the too-real storm and stress of World War One. The late Prinz Eugen Variations (1939) are more modulated and fluent (though Nazi-approved). Performance and recording maintain Cpo's high level."Report Abuse
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