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Recently in Recordings

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV recreated at Versailles

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Tenebræ Responsories
recording by Stile Antico

Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Tenebrae Responsories are designed to occupy the final three days of Holy Week, and contemplate the themes of loss, betrayal and death that dominate the Easter week. As such, the Responsories demand a sense of darkness, reflection and depth that this new recording by Stile Antico - at least partially - captures.

Mahler Symphony no 9, Daniel Harding SRSO

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The new recording, from Munich, has features in common with one from Stuttgart that I greatly enjoyed and reviewed here: the singers are all native French-speakers, the orchestra is associated with a German radio channel, we are hearing an actual performance (or in this case an edited version from several performances, in April 2016), and the recording is released by the orchestra itself or its institutional parent.

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The two works on this CD make an apt and welcome pair. First we have Ravel’s sumptuous three-song cycle about the mysteries of love and fantasies of exotic lands. Then we have his one-act opera that takes place in a land that, to French people at the time, was beckoningly exotic, and whose title might be freely translated “The Nutty and Delightful Things That Can Happen in Spain in Just One Hour”.

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Mirages : visions of the exotic East, a selection of French opera arias and songs from Sabine Devieilhe, with Alexandre Tharaud and Les Siècles conducted by François-Xavier Roth, new from Erato

Hans Werner Henze Choral Music

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Étienne-Nicolas Méhul: Uthal

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Mozart’s Requiem: Pierre-Henri Dutron Edition

The stories surrounding Mozart’s Requiem are well-known. Dominated by the work in the final days of his life, Mozart claimed that he composed the Requiem for himself (Landon, 153), rather than for the wealthy Count Walsegg’s wife, the man who had commissioned it in July 1791.

Schumann and Mahler Lieder : Florian Boesch

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Hans Werner Henze : Kammermusik 1958

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Elder conducts Lohengrin

There have been dozens of capable, and more than capable, recordings of Lohengrin. Among the most-often praised are the Sawallisch/Bayreuth (1962), Kempe (1963), Solti (1985), and Abbado (1991). Recording a major Wagner opera involves heavy costs that a record company may be unable to recoup.

Premiere Recording: Mayr’s Telemaco nell’isola di Calipso (1797)

No sooner had I drafted my review of Simon Mayr’s Medea in Corinto,



RCO 17005
28 Jul 2017

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch

Detlev Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch should be a huge hit. Just as Carl Orff's Carmina Burana appeals to audiences who don't listen to early music (or even to much classical music), Glanert's Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch has all the elements for instant popular success.

Detlev Glanert : Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch. Markus Stenz, Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

A review by Anne Ozorio

RCO 17005 [CD]

€ 12.99  Click to buy

It helps that the paintings are so much part of popular culture that everyone recognizes his images of extreme excess. Bosch’s people wear medieval dress, but their actions depict the subconscious, the ‘Id’ and existential guilt in operation, centuries before the concepts of psychology found expression in formal language.

Like Carnina Burana, Glanert’s Requiem is highly dramatic music theatre, adapting the cataclysmic dreamscapes of Bosch’s paintings into music of extremes as lurid as Bosch’s images. Glanert’s Requiem unfolds in 18 episodes, rather like panels in a medieval triptych. This gives the piece structure, making it easy to follow. The teeming, sprawling panoramas Bosch depicts could plausibly be depicted in sound, but that would probably be asking too much of most audiences. Like Bosch, though, Glanert’s piece replicates extremes. Literally heaven and hell, for the premise is the judgement Bosch faces after death. Thus the standard elements of a Requiem Mass are interleaved with the Seven Deadly Sins, the acrid flames of hellfire whipping against the smoke of incense.

A harsh Voice (David Wilson-Johnson, narrating) calls from above “Hieronymus Bosch!” Immediately we spring to attention. Bells ring,. Throbbing, rushing figures in the choral line, suggesting the doomed hordes we see in Bosch’s paintings. The orchestral lines veer wildly, lit by screaming brass, the chorus screaming to crescendo. Suddenly the forces fragment and, from the silence, a slow, low penitential intonation. An abstract ‘Requiem Aeternam’, the choral line flowing ambiguously, in almost microtonal haze. like smoke. In ‘Gluttony’ the bass (the aptly named Christof Fischesser) sings of food, his lines circular and rotund. The text may be in Latin, but the meaning is clear. The choir responds with the long, thin lines of an ‘Absolve Domine’, reinforced by ‘Wrath’ with tenor (Gerhard Siegel) and a ‘Dies Irae’ which ends with a vivid orchestral flourish. Another demon, ‘Envy’, fights back. Soprano Aga Mikolaj’s fluid, curving lines mimic the lines in the “heavenly” chorus— imitation is a sign of envy!

But the serene ‘Juste judex’ prevails. But where are we? The organ solo (Leo van Doeselaar) lets rip with a frenzy that suggests a cathedral organ hijacked by ‘Satan’. Despite the extremes of volume and tempi, the lines between heaven and hell are, tellingly, blurred. In ‘Sloth’, the soprano sings langorously, joined in sensuous duet by the mezzo (Ursula Hesse von den Steinen). ‘Pride’, ‘Lust’ and ‘Avarice’ appear, but the balance shifts towards the big guns : Full choir, offstage choir, and orchestra in increasingly full throttle : listen for the jazzy culmination of the ‘Domine Jesu Christe’. and the funky trumpet that heralds the ‘Agnus Dei’.

With the ‘Libera Me’ and ‘Peccatum’, we are in Carmina Burana territory, bursting forth in a blaze, the earthly chorus in raucuous flow, augmented by brass and percussion and the offstage chorus singing of ‘lux perpetua’. Big forces. But is might right? Glanert’s Requiem ends ‘In Paradisium’, here the ‘Voice from Above’ recites lines from the Book of Revelation. Apocalyptic visions, marking the end of the world and of time. Now, when the Voice screams “Hieronymus!”, he doesn’t add a demonic epithet. With an unearthly low hum, the choir sings of the chorus angelorum that brings eternal rest.

Glanert’s Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch was commissioned to celebrate Bosch’s 500th anniversary, and premiered in Sint Janskathedraal, ‘s-Hertogenbosch, in April 2016. So it’s a public piece rather than a work of inward inspiration. It must be great fun to perform, without being particularly demanding, technically or interpretively. It could, in theory, be performed elsewhere, much as Carmina Burana is, these days. It is admirably performed on this world premiere recording made in November 2016 with the top-notch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, conducted by Markus Stenz.

Glanert was one of Hans Werner Henze’s few disciples. Henze’s political beliefs influenced his music, though he never sacrificed high artistic and intellectual standards. Glanert is a man of the theatre, too, with a more earthy sense of humour than Henze had, though that quirkiness isn’t too obvious. When the ENO did Glanert’s opera Caligula, London audiences just couldn’t get it. (Please read HERE what I wrote about Caligula, which I first heard in Frankfurt). In this Bosch Requiem, Glanert again mixes grotesque with irony. Just as the vastness of Carmina Burana appealed to Nazi taste, the vastness of this Requiem veers on parody. Will it be loved for its vulgarity or its irony? Just as the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch reveal the viewer, Glanert’s Requiem reveals the listener.

Anne Ozorio


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