Annette Dasch, soprano · Daniela Sindram, mezzosoprano
Christian Elsner, tenor · Georg Zeppenfeld, bass
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks · Michael Gläser, chorusmaster
Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, conductor
This release is volume 2 of the complete recording of Beethoven‘s symphonies
with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Saarbrücken under Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. When Skrowaczewski conducted the orchestra for the first time in 1978, it was love at first sight. Orchestra musicians as well as audiences
couldn‘t have been more enthusiastic, ensuring that the Polish conductor,
who had been GMD of the Minnesota Orchestra since 1960, stood a short time later on the podium. Since 1994, Skrowaczewski has been the first guest conductor of the RSO Saarbrücken. The highlight of their work till today has been the complete recording of the Bruckner symphonies (also released by OehmsClassics). Completion of the Beethoven cycle will bring a significant era of the orchestra‘s history to a close and be a definitive statement by one of the last great old-school conductors.
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski on this Recording
Recordings of Beethoven Symphonies represent
probably to every orchestra and conductor a special challenge not only from technical point of view, but also stylistic and purely sonic.
The great richness and complexity of a Beethoven score, with its secondary and tertiary
inner voices require a perfect balance not only between main orchestral groups, but even within chords. This must be clearly presented
in a recording.
There has been since a long time a controversy
regarding Beethoven metronome tempos.
In the last 30, or more years some conductors
almost blandly followed Beethoven’s metronome markings, often, in my opinion, to the detriment of the music, its content, message,
majesty, or power.
One could sometimes suspect that a sheer ambition to bring a novelty – pour épater le bourgeois, which often has brought fame and financial gains – played there a certain role.
We will know that Beethoven put metronome
markings of the first six symphonies many years after these symphonies were written. The precision of his metronomes was questionable – he complained in a letter to his publishers Schott & Söhne: My metronome is sick and needs a watchmaker to recover its equable, regular pulse. In other letters, within the compass of several years, he put different metronome markings for the same piece.
Finally, we the composers and conductors well know how much our feeling for a right tempo can change with time, especially if the composer happens to be of a compulsive, passionate
character, as Beethoven was. In the 1820ies C. M. von Weber wrote in the Berliner Musik-Zeitung: Never mind about marks on paper,
use your brain. Debussy speaks poetically about metronome figures that they are like a rose, closed in the morning, opening with the light. Thus, respecting fully Beethoven metronome
figures, I still take them sometime „cum grano salis“, while the music itself, its character,
content, message has been for me always in the tempo of prime importance, and a sort of guide.
Then comes the problem of performing Beethoven’s music on modern instruments. This has to be solved by the conductor, along his knowledge, taste, feeling and understanding
I am fortunate that to face these problems I have with me the excellent Saarbrücken Radio
After the success with our recent recordings
of all eleven Bruckner symphonies, I know that these fine, dedicated musicians will help me to meet these new challenges successfully.
Annette Dasch Sopran
Annette Dasch began her studies in 1996 at the Academy for Theater and Music in Munich with Josef Loibl and attended master classes with Philip Schulze, Wolfram Rieger and Helmut Deutsch. Her international career began in 2000 after winning prizes at three important vocal competitions: Barcelona, Zwickau and Geneva. Major engagements at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, the German
State Opera in Berlin, the Saxon State Opera in Dresden, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris, the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie,
the Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, the New National Theater in Tokyo and the Innsbruck and Vienna Festivals. She has sung such roles as Flavia, Gemmira, Galatea, Pamina, Fiordiligi, Contessa, Aminta, Gretel, Antonia,
and Liu, and worked with distinguished conductors such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Marek Janowski, René Jacobs, Fabio Luisi, Marcello Viotti, Alessandro de Marchi, Marc Piollet, Frans Brüggen and Arnold Östman. In 2006, Annette Dasch debuted at the Salzburg Festival in Mozart’s early opera Il re pastore. Her plans for upcoming seasons include appearances
at the Opéra National de Paris and in the USA. Her first solo album with German baroque arias has recently been released by Harmonia Mundi.
Daniela Sindram Mezzospran
Daniela Sindram was born in Nuremberg. She studied voice in Berlin and Hamburg with Ute Niss and Judith Beckmann. She took master classes with Brigitte Fassbaender, Anna Reynolds, Christa Ludwig and Aribert Reimann as well.
Daniela Sindram was engaged by the Bremen Theater in 1996, where she learned the greatest part of her opera repertoire in five years – from Gluck to Mozart to Richard Strauss. In 2001 she was awarded the Kurt-Hübner Prize in recognition
of her artistic performance. Daniela Sindram joined the ensemble of the National Theater in Mannheim as of the 2001/2002 season, where she sang various Mozart roles as well as in Wagner’s
Ring der Nibelungen. In 2002, she appeared for the first time with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and debuted at the Bayreuth Festival as Siegrune and Wellgunde. She has been an ensemble member of the Bavarian State Opera since the 2003/2004 season.
In addition to opera, Daniela Sindram sings Lied and oratorio. Her repertoire includes almost
all alto and mezzo-soprano roles in the oratorio literature as well as Lied cycles by composers such as Schumann, Mahler and Schönberg. She works with such conductors as Christopher Hogwood, Thomas Hengelbrock,
Manfred Honeck, Adam Fischer and Helmut Rilling, with whom she recently recorded
the alto role in Mendelssohn’s Athalia. She has produced a CD for Naxos with Schubert
Lieder which will be released shortly.
Christian Elsner studied voice with Martin Gründler, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Neil Semer. The prizewinner of various international
competitions has sung roles such as Lenski, Idomeneo or the First Geharnischter in opera houses including Heidelberg, Darmstadt,
Oslo, Munich, Paris and Salzburg.
As a concert singer, Christian Elsner can be heard regularly at international festivals and in all important concert halls – from Berlin, Vienna
and London to New York and Tokyo. He has worked together with conductors like Herbert
Blomstedt, Christoph Eschenbach, Adam Fischer, Carlo Maria Giulini, Riccardo Chailly, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Mariss Jansons, Fabio Luisi and Sir Roger Norrington and has made numerous radio recordings and CD productions.
He works with piano accompanists such as Hartmut Höll, Graham Johnson and Charles Spencer, singing Lied concerts in Brussels, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, Lucerne,
London, Ravinia or the Schubertiade in Feldkirch. Most recently, Elsner has performed
excerpts from Wagner’s Lohengrin in Copenhagen as well as the title role of Mozart’s
Idomeneo in Denmark. In addition to his musical activities, Christian Elsner also writes children’s books.
Georg Zeppenfeld studied concert and opera
singing at the Academies of Music in Detmold and Cologne as well as with Hans Sotin. His first opera engagement took him to the City Opera House of Münster (1997–1999), where he debuted as Titurel in Wagner’s Parsifal.
After two additional years at the Bonn Opera
he began singing at the Saxon State Opera in Dresden (Semper Opera), where he remains as an ensemble member to this day.
Under the baton of such renowned conductors
as Marc Albrecht, Myung-Whun Chung, Daniele Gatti, Kent Nagano and Marcello Viotti,
Georg Zeppenfeld has learned many bass roles of very different epochs and styles: from Sarastro to Philipp II, King Marke to Pimen.
Guest appearances have taken him to opera
stages in Bern, Hanover, Kassel, Dusseldorf,
Mannheim and Berlin (Deutsche Oper). Since 2002 he has frequently appeared at the Salzburg Festival, singing opera and oratorio roles as well as Lied concerts. He will debut at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich in 2007.
In addition to his stage activities, Georg Zeppenfeld is in high demand as an international
concert singer. He has sung the bass roles in the major vocal works of Bach, Handel
and Haydn as well as the great Romantic oratorios. Georg Zeppenfeld has appeared at prominent festivals including the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Bruckner Festival in Linz, the Herrenchiemsee Festival or the Rheingau Music Festival. Numerous radio and television productions, e.g. with various German, Austrian, French, Swiss and Italian broadcasting companies document Georg Zeppenfeld’s work. He has released CDs on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label.
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
What a work: its motives are part of the cell phone ring-tone world, it has been turned into pop and rock music, and is heard wherever people want to express freedom and brotherhood. It has been played at acts of state like the celebration of German reunification at the Brandenburg Gate in 1989 as well as at the entrance of the German Olympic teams during the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games. And since 1972, Ode to Joy, the main theme from the symphony’s last movement, has been the European hymn. This melody is as well known and popular as any of the world’s greatest hits and now leads a life of its own, liberated from its confines in the last symphony of the Viennese
Beethoven had in mind just this global feeling
of solidarity with all humanity when he set some verses of Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy to music in the last movement of his Ninth Symphony.
Beethoven first has this melody played by the strings. After a series of variations, the choir finally enters, including a powerful choral-
solistic roundelay that unites such heterogeneous
elements as a Turkish march and a double fugue (Martin Geck). Beethoven’s contemporaries
considered this escalation from the instrumental to the vocal to be simultaneously
colossal and intimidating: a thorough bursting of the formal chains of the classical symphony. And this is how the Ninth has come down to us today: a landmark as well as yardstick
for all later composers.
Beethoven’s ascension to hymn-like realms was the expression of his own thoughts on humanity, which Beethoven scholar Martin Geck interprets with these words: “The best symphonic music that one can play for man is nothing in light of the real horrors he must face. Man is alone in ensuring his own salvation,
and he must do this by joyfully and devoutly
harmonizing with the song that makes all men brothers under the heavens of God the Father, Creator of all Mankind.”
Beethoven had long played with the idea of setting Schillers Ode to Joy. According to a letter written in 1793 by Bonn law professor
Fischenich to Schiller’s wife Charlotte, Beethoven wanted to set every stanza. I expect
the perfect work, for as far as I know him, he is one for the grand and lofty. In 1812, Beethoven had considered working the text into a Schiller overture. But he first expressed the idea of ending a symphony with a choral finale in 1817, when he wanted to begin writing
two symphonies. This project, however, was not yet to be. After finishing his Eighth Symphony in 1812, a future symphony was certainly in Beethoven’s thoughts, but it took ten years before he wrote another one. For his contemporaries, this was evidence that he was going through an “artistic crisis”. In 1821, the Leipziger Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung reported: Beethoven – as Haydn once did – is working on motives from Scottish songs; he seems to be completely apathetic to writing larger works. Certainly, he had health problems, he was involved in a grueling legal dispute over the guardianship of his nephew Karl, he suffered from the paralyzing Vienna music life, which seemed drawn only to the music of a Rossini, and his progressing deafness
was increasingly debilitating – but he did compose some of his most enduring works in
these years: the Diabelli Variations, the Missa Solemnis and the Hammerklavier Sonata.
Dr. Beate Früh
Translation: Elizabeth Gahbler