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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Wistful Music For The Waning Summer

By Norman Lebrecht on August 25, 2017

Hans Werner Henze: Kammermusik 1958, Neue Volkslieder (Tudor)
Hans Werner Henze: Kammermusik 1958, Neue Volkslieder (Tudor)

★★★★ (out of five)

Modern composers, when they die, go into limbo for about a decade before their reputation settles. It has been five years since Henze left us and I miss bumping into his music, on the radio, at festivals, anywhere. It has all gone rather quiet.

Which may account for my excessive pleasure at encountering these otherworldly pieces, rich in references to a forgotten age and its leisurely pace. The Kammermusik, for tenor, guitar and eight instruments, is dedicated to Benjamin Britten in thanks for introducing Henze to the guitarist Julian Bream. But although Henze quotes a Britten phrase and dabbles wistfully with a twelve-note row, the music is lush, exuberant, Mediterranean and very sensual—as different from Britten as could possibly be. Perfect August music, in fact. Jürgen Ruck is the guitarist, Andrew Staples the captivating tenor, with vivid playing from the Scharoun Ensemble Berlin.

The Neue Volkslieder began as a workshop project in a depressed steel town and was developed by Henze into a lament for lost landscapes, a meditation on might-have-beens, like a long-lost family album. Hints of Kurt Weill and early Hindemith. Try it: I was transfixed.

Hans Werner Henze: Kammermusik 1958, Neue Volkslieder (Tudor) is available at Amazon.ca.

Hear more from Norman Lebrecht on Slipped Disc.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

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Ludwig Van Toronto

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