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Opera - Released March 16, 2018 | Orfeo

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The subject of Gottfried von Einem's opera Der Besuch der alten Dame [The Visit], after Dürrenmatt's work of the same name, is no less sinister and cynical. A small, economically and socially ruined town which has been forgotten by the world receives a visit from the titular Dame, a millionaire who had grown up there, and who was left poor and pregnant. She wants to restore the town to its former glory, but she has one rather tricky condition: that a local agrees to kill her former lover, who had produced two false witnesses – who, now blinded and castrated, have become servants to the Dame. At first, the town proudly refuses, and then hesitates, vacillates, prevaricates, doesn't know what to do... Finally, the former lover dies "on his own", from a heart attack. The Vienna Opera didn't hold back for this fantastic and enjoyable 1971 opera (the recording is of the world première). Christa Ludwig played the Dame – although she was still young, barely 40! –, Eberhard Waechter played the accused former lover, and Hans Hotter, Kurt Equiluz and many more feature in the cast, under the direction of the old(then young) pro, Horst Stein. Gottfried von Einem's music, following in the footsteps of Strauss but with a certain mischievous modernist je-ne-sais-quoi, offers a first-class frame for this lyrical pearl, which ought to be played more often in France, where directors seem set on drowning us in an incessant cocktail of Puccini, Verdi, Mozart, Donizetti and Bizet… © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released February 16, 2018 | Orfeo

Booklet
Einem made his international breakthrough as a composer with the 1947 premiere of his opera Dantons Tod (Danton’s death) at the Salzburg Festival. The composer increasingly gained global prominence as his works were premiered at venues in Europe, North America and Japan. Einem’s oeuvre of 111 numbered works covers all musical genres. Initially a composer of large-scale works, much of his later repertoire comprises of chamber music and works for solo instruments. Einem displayed an extensive critical understanding of literature. Although he was unsuccessful in his attempt to engage Bertolt Brecht at the Salzburg Festival, he did persuade the poet, whom he much admired, to produce a text derived from the play Mother Courage and her Children as a template for a choral work. On this basis, Einem wrote his Stundenlied (Song of the Hours) Op. 26, premiered 1959, which portrays the final hours of the Passion of Christ. Far removed from the tradition of Passion settings, this choral work reflects on the fickleness and manipulability of the masses, as documented in a chronological account that rouses the listener to compassion. Back in 1949, Brecht had insisted that the composer’s work should be a “wild piece”. This wildness is certainly imparted by the work’s sophisticated rhythms, captivating instrumentation and dramatic outbursts in the chorus. Although Gottfried von Einem was always fond of large-scale orchestral formats, he was averse to symphonies as a genre. However, a commission from Eugene Ormandy, principal conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, gave him an opportunity to try his hand at writing a symphony. What Ormandy actually requested was an overture, about ten minutes in length, for a gala concert in 1961. What he received, though, was a symphony of nearly twice that duration, so a work both of different length and character. Einem tersely commented that this three-movement work, like a Haydn symphony, was very suitable for opening the concert. Ormandy was not at all happy; after all, he had commissioned Einem to write a specific work and, in doing so, had faced opposition from the orchestra’s committee. The scheduled premiere by the Philadelphia Orchestra did not go ahead due to opposition from the orchestra and misgivings on the part of some American composers and those lobbying for their interests. The Philadelphia Symphony Op. 28 did however create a permanent link between the composer and the orchestra that commissioned the work, since it was under this title that the work was published and premiered. This opus 28 was Einem’s way of making his most emphatic statement to date as a composer of the post-modern era: the whole symphony is clearly written in C major, a striking feature at a time when young composers from all over the world were making annual pilgrimages to the Donaueschingen Festival in order to study and experience the dismantling of musical tradition and try out or at least resolve to embark on new initiatives. In this respect, Einem was courageous, perhaps even provocative; suffice it to say, his intention was clearly to open the door to a different musical future, much to the excitement of those who embraced his vision at the premiere. A contemporary review combined foresight with concerns for the future: “Einem shows vigour, humour and skill in his brilliant orchestration of the Symphony as he swims against a current that will lead many a slave of musical technique to some unknown destination.” From 1962 until 1973 von Einem worked on a composition that eventually became the Sacred Sonata for soprano, trumpet and organ Op. 38. After the first movement, which is reserved for the organ and trumpet, the three other movements feature a vocal line too. Einem based the two middle movements on texts from the Pauline epistles and chose a psalm text for the final movement: the apostle’s pledge of faith in God is followed by words of praise from Psalm 103. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Opera - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Chamber Music - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Opera - Released February 8, 2019 | Orfeo

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Full Operas - Released April 5, 2019 | CapriccioNR

Hi-Res Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released May 1, 2004 | VMS Musical Treasures

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Classical - Released July 10, 2020 | Pan Classics

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Classical - Released January 1, 2016 | Orfeo

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Opera - Released September 4, 2001 | Opera d'Oro

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Classical - Released September 26, 2006 | Preiser Records