Often described as one of Europe's foremost living composers, Hans Werner Henze could perhaps more accurately be described as Europe's greatest living composer. Born in 1926, Henze's career spans sixty years, his style encompasses everything from neo-classicism to post-modernism, his works include everything from grand operas to intimate quartets, and his music embraces everything from ecstatic lyricism to agonizing expressionism. In this disc devoted to his music for guitar, Henze's intimate, lyrical, neo-classical side is brilliantly on display from the achingly lovely Drei Tentos (Three Attempts) and Drei Fragmente nach Hölderlin (Three Fragments from Hölderlin) both from 1958 through the intensely dramatic Royal Winter Music from 1979 to the wildly eclectic Selbst- und Zweigespräche (Monologues and Dialogues) from 1985 and Neue Volkslieder und Hirtengesänge (New Folk Songs and Shepherd's Melodies) from 1986. Only the Drei Tentos and the Royal Winter Music are for guitar alone while the other works are scored for different chamber ensembles, but with a delicate vibrato, a sensitive tone and an amazing technique that moves from the simplest melodies to the most extravagant extended performance practice with the greatest of ease, guitarist Franz Halász proves himself adept in all of them. Although not for every guitar aficionado, those who love post-War music will be thrilled by this disc.
A co-production with the Bayerischer Rundfunk, Naxos' sound is closer and more vivid than usual.