Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hey Mr Conductor! Part 2

Want some gravitas? Then Hans Gál's cantata De Profundis will have you down as in contact with Higher Things. Written in 1948 as a response to the Second World War, this 78-minute masterpiece by the Austrian émigré Gál (1890-1987) sets texts by 16th century German philosophers and poets like Gryphius, Fleming and Ulrich von Brandenburg. Sure it's big, and needs a chorus as well as SATB soloists and a standard-size orchestra but this baby is up there with Ein Deutsches Requiem and Schmidt's Das Buch mit Sieben Siegeln, but with a lighter touch and a broader, sweeter lyricism, especially Austrian in the Ländler-like central movement. But there are just enough pungent hints of Gál's time in Vienna with Schoenberg and his mates to avert a swamping of sentiment or anachronism. The finale is of a serenity that places this, alongside Strauss's Metamorphosen and Vier letzte Lieder - particularly that cycle's Eichendorff setting, Im Abendrot - as the finest musical postscript to war by a German-speaking composer. Ist dies etwa der Tod? Expensive to do, yes, but worth every pfennig.
No recording: Contact for a bargain CD of a 1987 BBC tape
Comparable repertoire: see above
Like this? Try these: Reger, Die Nonnen, op 112; Der Einsiedler, op 144a; Suter, Le Laudi

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