V0102. ERNEST KRENEK: Sechs Motten nach Worten vomn Franz Kafka (5 Prayers; Cantata on the Transcience of Earthly Things - Lamento della Ninfa; Choruses on Jacobean Poems (Monteverdi/Krenek)), w.Hans-Christoph Rademann Cond. RIAS Kammerchor with Caroline Stein & Philip Mayers. (Germany) Harmonia Mundi HMC 902049, in Gatefold Jacket with elaborate brochure w.texts. Final Sealed Copy! - 794881942824
“I've been a big fan of Ernst Krenek's chamber music and his operas, but I've never taken much to his—or anybody's� a cappella choral music. So why am I reviewing this disc? It may be that we have no one on staff who fancies both. Krenek was among the cleverest of composers; he could do anything he wanted, with any kind of material, in any form. Every piece I have encountered has proven worthy, even fascinating�.He was a politically and socially sensitive person: Born in 1900, he grew up during the First World War and had to abandon his Viennese homeland for America during the Second. He was an admirer of Josquin, Ockeghem, and Monteverdi. And he studied Schberg's 12-tone music, modifying it as he adapted it for his own use. These facets dominate the choral music on this disc. Most surprising is his amalgamation of the old and the new; many of these pieces successfully blend Renaissance polyphony with Schberg - one example of the Krenek magic�.a 12-note cantus firmus on the Latin Pater noster, written in the dark days of 1944, they express Krenek's ‘mortal distress� at the collapse of the European world he had left behind�. In 1938 Krenek moved to the United States of America, where he taught music at various universities. He became an American citizen in 1945. In these striking motets, he explores the writings and darkly brilliant mind of Franz Kafka. This CD is a ‘must� for lovers of 20th-century music and literat
The 19-minute Cantata on the Transcience of Earthly Things begins as an unaccompanied chorus, which is soon interrupted by the piano and solo voice; they alternate through a variety of Baroque poetry bewailing the futility of life. Written in 1932, it seems to predict the coming of the Nazis and world war. It also employs Krenek's seemingly inexhaustible supply of musical techniques and references: dodecaphonic at one moment, music of the popular stage at another, plus much else in between. Monteverdi's ‘Ninfa� laments a lover lost to another, more in sadness than in anger - although the text sums up ‘with indignant complaints�. A Krenek-supplied choral introduction and epilogue surround the soprano's piano-accompanied lament, which is also subject to choral interjections.
The performances are subtle and beautifully gauged by the fine RIAS Chamber Choir, its title (Radio in the American Sector) indicative of its 60-plus years of experience. Stein has a smooth, lovely soprano, with which she nicely balances the requirements of Lieder and choral presentations. Texts appear in the sung languages (German, Latin, Italian) plus side-by-side French and English translations.�
- James H. North, FANFARE