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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hugo Wolf; Hans Pfitzner; Richard Strauss - Orchestral Works (Otmar Suitner)


Composer: Hugo Wolf; Hans Pfitzner; Richard Strauss
  1. Wolf - Penthesilea, symphonic poem: 1. Aufbruch de Amazonen nach Troja
  2. Wolf - Penthesilea, symphonic poem: 2. Der Traum Penthesileas vom Rosenfest
  3. Wolf - Penthesilea, symphonic poem: 3. Kämpfe, Leidenschaften, Wahnsinn, Vernichtung
  4. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music to Heinrich von Kleist's play, Op. 17: Prelude to Act 3
  5. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music to Heinrich von Kleist's play, Op. 17: Melodram
  6. Pfitzner - Das Käthchen von Heilbronn, incidental music to Heinrich von Kleist's play, Op. 17: Ouvertüre
  7. Strauss - Fantasy on "Die Frau ohne Schatten", Op. 65

Juliane Koren & Frank Lienert (5)
Staatskapelle Berlin
Otmar Suitner, conductor

Date: 1980 (7), 1983
Label: Berlin Classics



"... Wolf's Penthesilea is in three movements. 1. Aufbruch der Amazonen nach Troja; 2. Der Traum Penthesileas vom Rosenfest; 3. Kämpfe, Leidenschaften, Wahnsinn, Vernichtung. The whole 30 minute tone poem (recorded previously by Otto Gerdes on DG) operates at the ramshackle and bombastic level of Smetana's (non-Ma Vlast) tone poems somewhat modernised. It is interesting to hear what Wolf made of such an ambitious project but the results pass muster as pleasant rather than transfixing.

Pfitzner's incidental music to Heinrich Kleist's Käthchen von Heilbronn is much more promising. The Prelude to Act 3 is placed first. This music is a cut or five above the Wolf and much more successful as a piece of music: German late-romanticism written away from the ‘disturbing’ winds of Zemlinsky's and Schrecker's expressionistic saturation. The Melodram movement has the lovers speaking over the music. Juliane Koren plays Käthchen and Frank Lienert takes the role of Ritter vom Strahl. The voices are completely credible in their ecstatic dialogue and the music floats and radiates away in the background. The suite ends with the Ouverture at 12.48 running together moments of romantic fanfarery, with Weberian scherzos and lush string interludes. The music is predominantly soft-focus romantic.

Lastly [..] comes Strauss's Fantasy for Large Orchestra - Die Frau ohne Schatten Op. 65. This plays for 20.24. It stands tall in the company of its disc-mates with its gruff call to arms and its shining string choirs and French horn huzzas at 18.02. It operates largely at the level of a contented scena for strings. ..."

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
reviewing EDEL CLASSICS 0002442CCC / SUITNER 80th Anniversary Special Edition


Hugo Wolf (13 March 1860 – 22 February 1903) was an Austrian composer of Slovene origin, particularly noted for his art songs, or Lieder. He wrote hundreds of lieder and brought to this form a concentrated expressive intensity which was unique in late Romantic music, somewhat related to that of the Second Viennese School in concision but diverging greatly in technique. His most famous instrumental piece is the Italian Serenade (1887), originally for string quartet and later orchestrated. The symphonic poem Penthesilea is written in 1883-1885 after the advice of Franz Liszt.


Hans Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist. His best known work is the post-Romantic opera Palestrina, loosely based on the life of the sixteenth-century composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Pfitzner's music, including pieces in all the major genres except the symphonic poem, was respected by contemporaries such as Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. His works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music. Pfitzner's students included musicians such as Otto Klemperer, Charles Münch and Carl Orff.


Richard Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, lieder, tone poems and other orchestral works. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria, enjoying quasi-celebrity status as his compositions became standards of orchestral and operatic repertoire. Strauss made a large number of recordings, both of his own music as well as music by German and Austrian composers. Along with Gustav Mahler, Strauss represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.


Otmar Suitner (16 May 1922 – 8 January 2010) was an Austrian conductor. He studied piano at the Conservatory in Innsbruck with Fritz Weidlich, then at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Franz Ledwinka (piano) and Clemens Krauss (conducting). Suitner was chief conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden (1960-1964), and general music director of the Berlin State Opera, of which the orchestra is Staatskapelle Berlin (1964-1971 and 1974-1991). He had to stop conducting in 1990 due to Parkinson's disease. From 1977 to 1990 Suitner was professor of conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna.


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