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Entartete Musik - Krása: Verlobung Im Traum, Etc / Zagrosek

Release Date: 04/14/1998 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 455587   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Hans Krása
Performer:  Michael KrausChristianne BerggoldAlberto DohmenCharlotte Hellekant,   ... 
Conductor:  Lothar ZagrosekVladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ernst Senff Chamber ChoirDeutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Hans Krása (1899-1944) was a rich, well-educated Czech who worked as occasional pianist, conductor, and composer; Betrothal in a Dream (1930) is his magnum opus. It is based on Dostoyevsky's Uncle's Dream, a story about people who are so totally self-absorbed that they are virtually unable to communicate with each other. This makes for unusual ensembles in which each sings only to him- or herself and to the audience. The strong-willed mother's overweening ambition for her daughter, the decrepit old prince's enormous ego, the daughter's eternal love for a dying revolutionary—she would fly to him in his hour of need, except that the neighbors might talk—all are mocked unmercifully, until the fmale, when daughter and prince prove kindly Read more after all. For each of them there is a matching character who deflates his or her pretensions, although some of these alter egos are equally self-centered.

This is rich subject matter for a brilliant satiric opera, but Krása lacked the genius to carry it off; his surfaces are too smooth, his eclecticism too broad. He aimed for a serious moral as well as high satire, but that delicate combination is beyond him. The music is conventional and quite singable but unmemorable. Despite the clever libretto, the opera is stillborn. This was true both in a fine production by the Washington Opera a few years ago and in this equally fine recording. The action of the opera is framed by a sung introduction and spoken epilog by the town archivist, who is relating the story some years after it takes place. The introduction is a fine aria that made a strong impression both in the live performance (John Shirley-Quirk, if memory serves) and on this recording (Michael Kraus). If only Krása had been able to match it throughout the opera!

The 1923 Symphony for small orchestra is an intriguing work. An opening Pastorale with delicate, Webernesque scoring is followed by a subdued, off-kilter little march. These two movements achieved performances in Paris, Zurich, Prague, and even Boston in the 1920s and 30s, but the finale was not heard until 1991. It is a setting for soprano of a German translation of "The Lice-Pickers," from Rimbaud's A Season in Hell and Other Poems; this grotesque tale of a child's sexual arousal as two ladies pick lice from his head was too much for Krása's contemporaries on either continent. The music is clearly modeled on Schoenberg; judging from this performance (Krása scores seem unobtainable even in Prague), there may not be a single fortissimo in the entire work. One feels the presence of a sophisticated intellect in tune with its time, and the music is more interesting than that of the opera; this time there is as much imagination as imitation.

Production values are high throughout this recording, from singing and playing to sonic quality and excellent notes. Many listeners will want the set for its unique representation of these flawed but fascinating Krása compositions.

-- James H. North, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

Verlobung im Traum by Hans Krása
Performer:  Michael Kraus (Tenor), Christianne Berggold (Mezzo Soprano), Alberto Dohmen (Baritone),
Charlotte Hellekant (Mezzo Soprano), Robert Wörle (Tenor), Jane Henschel (Alto),
Juanita Lascarro (Soprano), Bogna Bartosz (Voice)
Conductor:  Lothar Zagrosek
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ernst Senff Chamber Choir,  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1933; Prague, Czech Republ 
Symphonie by Hans Krása
Performer:  Brigitte Balleys (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor:  Vladimir Ashkenazy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
Period: 20th Century 

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