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Ernst Krenek: Music For Chamber Orchestra

Krenek / Hausmann / Leopoldinum Orch / Kovacic
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 125   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Agata ZubelMathias Hausmann
Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KRENEK Von Vorn Herein , Op. 219. Die Nachtigall , Op. 68a 1. Im Tal der Zeit, Op. 232. Static and Ecstatic , Op. 214. The Dissembler , Op. 229 2 Ernst Kovacic, cond; 1 Agata Zubel (sop); Read more class="SUPER12">2 Mathias Hausmann (bar); Leopoldinum O TOCCATA 0125 (77:01 Text and Translation)

This disc is titled Music for Chamber Orchestra , but Krenek uses large forces; the orchestra personnel list includes a string complement of 6/5/5/4/2, plus multiple woodwinds, trumpet, trombones, four percussionists, harp, celesta, piano, and guitar. Warsaw’s Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum will need neither recommendation nor resumé for those who hear this disc; the musicians, their instruments, and their ensemble are perfection. Ernst Kovacic is an Austrian violinist as well as conductor; he has been director of the Leopoldinum since 2007 and has a marvelous feel for Krenek’s idiom.

The Nightingale was written in 1931, when Krenek was 31; the other works came to fruition in his 8th decade, from 1971 to 1979. The 10-minute Von Vorn Herein is “a mixture of freely invented sections and those based on a twelve-tone row” (from the penetrating program notes by Krenek scholar Peter Tregear). Its opening measures have a distinct flavor of Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony, and it then pursues its own “old-fashioned expressionistic” (Krenek) path, closing with a loud yawp from the trombones—a far cry from what we think of as a chamber orchestra work. Im Tal der Zeit includes references to Krenek’s earlier, tonal works but comes across as a colorful, gentle gloss on Schoenberg’s Five Pieces, op. 16. Krenek had an unparalleled ability to make atonal music graceful and pleasing. Static and Ecstatic consists of 10 short movements, half of them serial and half freely composed. In his Ernst Kernek, The Man and His Music , John L. Stewart writes “The music is so sensual, so eloquent, and so immediately enticing that one is inclined to regret the years Krenek spent on the stark, obdurate serial works . . . .” The Dissembler is an odd combination of the playful and the serious, a monologue (in English) about acting by an actor, touching on metaphysics (“But—what is truth?”), with quotes ranging from Euripides and Goethe to the Bible and Krenek’s own writings—each in its original language. The solo line varies from speech to Sprechstimme to song. The serial music suits the concept, as does a bass drum joining a chamber ensemble. Tregear again: “A dissembler is also someone who plays against convention and authority, a jester who resides inside the cloak of a sober classicist.” Krenek indeed!

Amid all this fascinating semi-serialism comes a magical orchestral song, a setting of Karl Kraus’s poem The Nightingale . The high-soprano vocal line has the luxurious golden ease of Richard Strauss’s writing for Sophie or Daphne, backed by a delicate, Mahlerian accompaniment. It is sung with stunning grace and lucidity by Agata Zubel, who is also a composer teaching at Warsaw’s Academy of Music. If Want Lists consisted of individual works, these eight minutes would be a sure bet. This Toccata Classics CD is a model of fine production values. Magisterial performances and honest, well-balanced sound aid Krenek’s eloquent music; the booklet includes complete texts and translations, plus artist bios and a list of orchestra personnel. It is an absolute must for Krenek fanciers, and everyone should hear The Nightingale.

FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

Von Vorn Herein, for orchestra, Op. 219 by Ernst Krenek
Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
Written: 1974 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Radio Wroclaw, Poland 
Length: 10 Minutes 5 Secs. 
Die Nachtigall, Op 68 by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Agata Zubel ()
Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Radio Wroclaw, Poland 
Length: 8 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Im Tal der Zeit, for orchestra, Op. 232 by Ernst Krenek
Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
Written: 1979 
Date of Recording: 05/15/2011 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Radio Wroclaw, Poland 
Length: 13 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Static and Ecstatic, for orchestra, Op. 214 by Ernst Krenek
Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
Written: 1971-1972 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Radio Wroclaw, Poland 
Length: 1 Minutes 14 Secs. 
The Dissembler, for voice & orchestra, Op. 229 by Ernst Krenek
Performer:  Mathias Hausmann ()
Conductor:  Ernst Kovacic
Written: 1978 
Venue:  Concert Hall of Radio Wroclaw, Poland 
Length: 22 Minutes 5 Secs. 

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