Heinz Holliger: Lunea

Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich

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Heinz Holliger: Lunea Review

by James Manheim

Heinz Holliger made his name as an oboist but was also a composer and has continued to pursue that vocation energetically into his ninth decade. Composers like Luciano Berio and Hans Werner Henze wrote music for him and also influenced his own music, which is not for those averse to atonal High Modernism. However, possibly because of his background as a performer, he arguably was more effective at connecting with audiences than some of his compatriots. Consider this setting, for soloists, madrigal choir, and small orchestra, of texts by poet Nikolaus Lenau, who, like so many other 19th century figures, contracted syphilis and went insane in his later years. He continued to write, though, and after that became impossible, his doctors and friends wrote down some of what he said in a kind of stream of consciousness. Holliger connects these writings into a set of 23 Lebensblätter ("life pages"), which are not connected in a linear way but do embody Lenau himself, expressively sung by baritone Christian Gerhaher, four other men and women in the poet's life, and a chorus that sings in an artificial, palindromic language. "Lunea" is at once an anagram of Lenau, a reference to the moon, and an evocation of lunacy. This sort-of opera sounds odd and may seem forbidding, but it has a spooky, beseeching quality that will have an increasingly powerful effect for those who stick with it. ECM provides the expected excellent sound from the Opernhaus Zürich.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Lunea
1 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 01:45 Amazon
2 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:04 Amazon
3 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:38 Amazon
4 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:59 Amazon
5 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:11 Amazon
6 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:39 Amazon
7 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 04:34 Amazon
8 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 02:41 Amazon
9 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 07:05 Amazon
10 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 04:53 Amazon
11 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:27 Amazon
12 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 08:07 Amazon
13 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 03:57 Amazon
14 Christian Gerhaher / Heinz Holliger / Basel Madrigalists / Philharmonia Zurich 04:21 Amazon
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