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Krenek: What Price Confidence / Hall, Davidson, Narucki, Clement, Nomura


Release Date: 10/28/2008 
Label:  Phoenix Edition   Catalog #: 130   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Linda HallRichard ClementIlana DavidsonChristopheren Nomura,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



KRENEK What Price Confidence? 3 Sauter Songs. 4 Songs. 3 Songs Linda Hall (pn); Ilana Davidson ( Gloria ); Susan Narucki ( Vivian ); Richard Clement ( Richard ); Christòpheren Nomura ( Edwin ) PHOENIX EDITION 130 (75:35 Text and Translation)

Read more /> Ernst Krenek wrote operas—20 of them—at the drop of a hat, both in Germany ( Jonny spielt auf , 1926) and in the United States. What Price Confidence? is a one-act chamber opera for four singers and piano, written in 1945 at the suggestion of four Metropolitan Opera singers, who never got around to performing it. The premiere took place at a German opera house in 1962. As with most (all?) of his operas, Krenek wrote his own libretto, in this case making up his own story. It is a charming piece of fluff, both musically and dramatically. Its theme is trust and mistrust between two couples. Those who lack confidence gain it, and vice versa; plot details needn’t concern us. The 12-tone musical structure is well disguised, except for a few brief piano interludes. The setting (London in the Victorian era), personal character, and even weather are cleverly suggested by a few notes: Big Ben striking, the patter of rain, momentary quotations from Tristan and God Save the Queen . The vocal lines are often merely a step above parlando, although there are some odd leaps and the women do have a few high notes to chirp. Everything about this performance is satisfactory: neat, clean, and light; every word of text is intelligible, aided by bright recorded sound from the Purchase College Arts Center, Purchase, New York.


There has been one previous recording of Confidence , on a 1996 cpo disc. It is the German version Krenek wrote for the 1962 premiere. The accompaniment is by two pianos, for which there is no explanation; one assumes it was Krenek’s doing. That performance is as accomplished as this one; the singers take their characters’ predicaments more seriously, which is reasonable—at one moment, Edwin contemplates jumping off Waterloo Bridge. I prefer the tenor and baritone on cpo, the soprano and mezzo on Phoenix Edition, and the two-pianists to the one. German seriousness makes the work more musically satisfying; American brilliance better captures the nature of the piece—this is Così fan tutte , not Il trovatore . The language may well dictate your choice. Phoenix Edition (a Viennese label, despite its American performance) provides an English libretto; cpo includes both languages.


The opera runs just under 40 minutes; cpo fills out its disc with sonatas for one and two pianos, Phoenix Edition with three sets of songs. The booklet makes no mention of the songs, other than track listings with song titles, plus what is listed in this review’s head note. There are no texts, no discussion, nor are we told who sings what, so the following information combines Google, Grove , and guesswork; caveat emptor . The 1972 Three Sauter Songs —misspelled Lauter in Grove —are to German texts by Lily von Sauter (1913–1972). The 1946–47 Four Songs , in English, are Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the 1928 Three Songs , op. 56, are Goethe. Sauer and Hopkins are set in Krenek’s most Schoenbergian style, Goethe in a wild mix of neo-Classicism, Romanticism, Bartók, Hindemith, and everyone else active in the 1920s. The music is alluring despite its confused provenance. I haven’t obtained English translations of the Goethe nor any version of the Sauter, and Hopkins has always been anathema to me, so I won’t attempt to evaluate the performances—which are shared among the singers—except to say that all are sung with beauty and apparent sensitivity.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
What Price Confidence?, Op. 111 by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Linda Hall (Piano), Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano),
Christopheren Nomura (Baritone), Susan Narucki (Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945-1946; USA 
Length: 4 Minutes 35 Secs. 
2.
Lieder (3), Op. 216: Aber die Nächte by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 41 Secs. 
3.
Lieder (3), Op. 216: Beschwörung by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 55 Secs. 
4.
Lieder (3), Op. 216: Der Sternenhimmel by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 18 Secs. 
5.
Peace by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 2 Minutes 29 Secs. 
6.
Patience by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 47 Secs. 
7.
On a piece of music by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 55 Secs. 
8.
Moonrise by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 0 Secs. 
9.
Die Zerostörung Magdeburg by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 15 Secs. 
10.
Der Neue Amadis by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 4 Minutes 14 Secs. 
11.
Fragment by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Richard Clement (Tenor), Ilana Davidson (Soprano), Linda Hall (Piano),
Susan Narucki (Soprano), Christopheren Nomura (Baritone)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 3 Minutes 28 Secs. 

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