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Heidi Brunner & Bertrand de Billy & Kristin Okerlund & ORF Radio Symphonie Orchester Wien Mozart - Wagner - Haydn - Respighi OC 325 CD
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FormatAudio CD
Ordering NumberOC 325
Release date31/01/2004
Players/ContributorsMusicians Composer
  • Haydn, Joseph
  • Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
  • Respighi, Ottorino
  • Wagner, Richard

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      Description hide

      The mezzo-soprano, born in Switzerland, was a member of the ensemble of the Wiener Staatsoper and Volksoper from 1996 to 1998. She also appears in Berlin, Munich, Barcelona and at the Salzburg Festival. Besides her opera performances, she is a regular guest on the international concert stages

      Radio-Symphony Orchestra Vienna
      Bertrand de Billy, conductor
      Kristin Okerlund, piano

      Mozart · Wagner · Haydn · Respighi

      Mozart´s concert aria KV 505 “Ch´io mi scordi di te?” – “Non temer, amato bene” came immediately after the Prague Symphony. Contrary to all earlier assumptions, it was composed purely as a concert aria, distinguished particularly by its use of the solo piano. Some Mozart biographers interpret this as meaning that he wrote this work not only for Nancy Storace but also for himself; however, this is not important for understanding the work and is also purely speculative. The text of this rondo was based on an earlier work, Mozart´s addition KV 490 to his opera Idomeneo, written for a concert version performed in Vienna. The lyrics were therefore written by Giambattista Varesco and the aria was sung by Storace, who is known to have been Mozart´s first Susanna, in an academy on February 23, 1787. Mozart dated the composition as of December 26, 1786. In this aria, the singer personifies the Prince Idamante (who was sung by a castrato at the premiere in Munich); he tries to calm his beloved Ilia, who has reproached him with being in reality the lover of Elettra, the daughter of the king of Troy. The solo piano is silent in the recitative and then vies with the singer throughout the rondo which follows. The work shows Mozart at the height of his powers, in his treatment of both piano and vocal parts.

      Wesendonck-Lieder [Wesendonck Songs]

      Richard Wagner´s Five Poems for a Female Voice with Pianoforte Accompaniment are known to the general public as the so-called Wesendonck-Lieder, after the authoress of the texts and partner in the love affair which Richard Wagner himself described as the inspiration for the composition of Tristan and Isolde. However, the authoress could not be named at the time of publication, and the addition originally requested by Wagner, that the work consisted of settings of “amateur poems”, was only retracted by the publishing company. Their close connection with the composition of Tristan and Isolde is not only seen in the two songs Dreams and In the Greenhouse, the final versions of which the composer himself described as studies for Tristan and Isolde, but also in the exactly deducible time of their composition at the climax of the relationship between Richard Wagner and Mathilde Wesendonck, thus parallel to the composition of the first act of Tristan and Isolde between Autumn 1857 and Spring 1858. One indicator that Wagner himself did not see these single songs from the most productive part of his career as merely offshoots of an affair, but by all means took them seriously as works of art, may also be attested by the fact that each of these songs are available in at least two versions, in the case of the two Tristan studies even in three. The final composition process was drawn out to Autumn 1858, when Richard Wagner, as a consequence of the éclat between the Wesendonck and Wagner couples in Zurich, travelled alone to Venice to continue work on Tristan.

      In modern concert programmes, the songs are more often heard in various orchestral versions than in the piano original. Wagner himself only orchestrated Dreams for solo violin and chamber orchestra; this received its premiere under his direction on December 18, 1857 at Wesendonck´s house on the occasion of the poetess´ birthday. The whole cycle was heard for the first time on July 30, 1862 at the Villa Schott near Mainz, with the soprano Emilie Genast and no less a personage than Hans von Bülow at the piano.

      The compositional meticulousness with which Wagner treated his motifs and musical phrasing at this time is much more clearly evident from the solo piano version than in any later version or even in Wagner´s own score for Dreams. The song Dreams anticipates the motifs of the great duet in Act II of Tristan and Isolde (“O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe” [O sink down, night of love]), and in Greenhouse, we clearly hear the Prelude to Act III. Although the three other songs do not directly anticipate the music of Tristan and Isolde, it is clear that they were composed in the same tonal world. The whole cycle has been acclaimed as one of the masterpieces of German song ever since it was created.

      Influenced by the “Sturm und Drang” movement, Joseph Haydn´s cantata Arianna á Naxos retells the story of Ariadne. We find ourselves in the time after Gluck´s reforms and various attempts to ascertain the direction which opera is to take. In 1775, Georg Bender composed a melodrama which received much attention, and which Haydn took as a model for his composition of 1789. In his cantata for soprano and piano, we find Ariadne deserted by Theseus on Naxos, and the singer has to depict the wide range of emotions from fear to anger, from grief to love, which vie in her thoughts and memories. In this version, Ariadne takes her destiny into her own hands and during a storm, throws herself off the cliffs into the sea. Haydn uses vivid tone painting to portray the extremes of emotion; when Ariadne finally experiences the full impact of the loss of her beloved, we experience a masterpiece of musical psychology. Respighi´s setting of Shelley´s poem The Sunset was composed in 1914 and received its premiere in Rome in May of the following year, sung by the mezzo soprano Chiarina Fino Savio, to whom it is also dedicated. The poem is about the death of two lovers. Respighi was so moved by the poem that his setting became his own version of the Liebestod [love-death]. He chose the intimate string quartet to accompany the voice. This version for string orchestra only differs from the original in the addition of the double bass. Not only in its reworking from string quartet to chamber ensemble is this work related to Schoenberg´s Transfigured Night or Alban Berg´s Lyric Suite. The musical structure shows the composer at the turning point of his career, where he attaches importance above all to the highly emotional arrangement of the voice in favour of the purely formal aspects.

      Tracklist hide

      CD 1
      • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
        • 1.Ch´io mi scordi di te? - Non temer, amato bene
          Scene with Rondo for soprano and orchestra with piano KV 505
          Text: Giambattista Varesco (1735-1805)
      • Richard Wagner (1813-1883): Wesendonck-Lieder
        Fünf Gedichte für eine Frauenstimme und Klaver (Mathilde Wesendonck, 1828-1902)
        • 2.Der Engel
          In der Kindheit frühen Tagen
        • 3.Stehe still!
          Sausendes, brausendes Rad der Zeit
        • 4.Im Treibhaus (Study for Tristan and Isolde:
          Hochgewölbte Blätterkronen, Baldachine von Smaragd
        • 5.Schmerzen
          Sonne, weinest jeden Abend Dir die schönen Augen rot
        • 6.Träume (Study for Tristan and Isolde
          Sag, welch wunderbare Träume halten meinen Sinn umfangen
      • Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
        • 7.Teseo mio ben!
          Arianna a Naxos, HobXXVIb / Nr. 2
          (Cantata for solo voice and piano)
      • Ottori Respighi (1879-1936)
        • 8.Già v´ebbe un uomo, nel cui tenue spirto
          II Tramonto - Lyric Poem for voice and string orchestra after the Poem The Sunset by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) translated into italian by R. Ascoli
      • Total:01:04:15