Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|R. Strauss, Brahms, Hindemith|
Listen to Samples
Past, present and future
peer gynt | 02/01/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To add some thing to the previous review, I have to pinpoint that this CD offers more than Strauss to listen to. This apparently misorganized pout-pourri collection of music is a testimony of the past, present and future of german music under the thirties, that is, during nazi government. As early as September 1933, Goebbles set up the Reich Chamber of Culture, where every piece of art (literary or not) had to pass under scrutiny before being approved. Music had less problems (in retrospect), because it was the least political of all modern arts, and because the German music tradition was, afterall, the richest (together with probably the operatic italian) ever, featuring Bach, Beethoven, Mozart the austrian, then Wagner and Brahms.
Indeed the diffusion of Brahms' works reached a (well deserved) peak, so did Richard Strauss', at that time the world's greatest living composer who, for a brief period of time, served as president of the Reich Music Chamber. Strauss' music often had been described as alerted to the joys of living, as in Don Juan or in Der Rosenkavalier, only to regret the destruction brought upon by the war, articulating his grief and mourning never more strongly than in Metamorphosen, composed in 1945, after the shock given by the destruction of the opera houses in Dresden and Vienna. Then came Paul Hindemith, the great star of modern german music, whose work was instead verboten, banned, accused of modernisn, and of being a Jew, under attack as an opponent of National Socialist culture.
The year Hitler came to power (January 1933), Hindemith composed an opera of three interludes as a suite, which he called the Mathis der Maler (Matthias the Painter) which became an immediate success. Unfortunately, Hindemith's music did not win Goebbels' favour, and his works were soon banned. Who, in those difficult years, stood in Hindemith defense? There he was, Wilhelm Furtwängler. The world's greatest conductor of the time wrote an article in Nov. 1934 defending Hindemith and opposing his "political denunciation" and his jewish origins, adding that "the only distinction for me is between a good and a bad artist". Brave words, who few dared to utter in those times. Furtwängler paid personally for them, forced to resign as director and conductor of the Berlin Philarmonic.
Enough for the historical remarks. Furtwängler was the bridge between past and present (and future) in german music, and this CD is a priceless testimony of that era. The quality of the sound is perhaps not the most appealing, when compared with modern recording techniques, but the quality of the symphonic pieces presented here is outstanding. We may disagree on their liking, as in fact I happen to enjoy a lot this rendering of Strauss' Metamorphosen (contrarly to the previous reviewer), and I cherish immensely the Brahms variations (especially the V-VI-VII, Vivace-Vivace-Grazioso), but I think it is an important piece of music to have, ver useful to compare with more modern renderings of them."