Markus Stenz

Hans Werner Henze: Ein Landarzt; Das Ende einer Welt - Rundfunkopern

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Radio operas (i.e., music dramas composed specifically for broadcasts, without stage actions or visuals of any kind) appealed to Hans Werner Henze as a challenge to his imagination, and proved to be a practical format for his complex, nightmarish musical settings of Franz Kafka's surrealistic story "Ein Landarzt" (A Country Doctor, 1951) and Wolfgang Hildesheimer's bizarre libretto Das Ende einer Welt (The End of a World, 1953). Echo effects, reversed and double-speed tapes, sound collages, and musique concrète are some of the "set dressings" that Henze uses to establish his eerie scenes and to surround his disoriented characters, who sing in a stylized manner similar to the expressionistic sprechstimme of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. Interestingly, the compact disc is well-suited to Henze's elaborate, experimental Rundfunkopern: Wergo's stunningly clear digital recording reproduces the operas' otherworldly effects quite convincingly, without uncomfortably close microphone placement, sound compression, or artificial boosting. This 2005 release is the first recording of Henze's revised versions (1993-1994), and the performances by the composer, the six-member cast, and the WDR Symphony Orchestra and Choir, conducted by Markus Stenz, are edgy and neurotically charged. These important recordings are highly recommended for fearless listeners, but those who dislike avant-garde opera will find them abrasive, bewildering, and somewhat disturbing.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Ein Landarzt, radio opera (later revised for stage)
1 02:15 Amazon
2 01:11 Amazon
3 00:47 Amazon
4 01:17 Amazon
5 01:29 Amazon
6 02:06 Amazon
7 02:23 Amazon
8 01:28 Amazon
9 01:25 Amazon
10 01:04 Amazon
11 00:51 Amazon
12 02:08 Amazon
13 02:34 Amazon
14 04:50 Amazon
Das Ende einer Welt, radio opera (later revised for stage)
15 01:05 Amazon
16 01:41 Amazon
17 01:14 Amazon
18 03:30 Amazon
19 03:12 Amazon
20 04:23 Amazon
21 02:05 Amazon
22 01:05 Amazon
23 03:34 Amazon
24 03:00 Amazon
25 01:28 Amazon
26 01:57 Amazon
27 00:45 Amazon
28 00:53 Amazon
29 06:10 Amazon
30 01:24 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick