Author Topic: Hans Werner Henze symphonies  (Read 14318 times)

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Offline MISHUGINA

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Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« on: September 19, 2007, 03:20:07 AM »
Hi, I just heard the CD set of Henze's first six symphonies on DG label conducted by the composer himself. The first five were played by Berliner Philharmoniker while the Sixth was played by London Symphony Orchestra. This is my first exposure to the composer and to me, his style is similar to Hindemith and Bartok, but in the Sixth I've heard he experiment with percussions like Varese. I haven't heard much and will try to finish it this two days. BTW, what is the percussive instrument that sounds like "popping" sound in his Sixth Symphony?
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johnQpublic

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2007, 05:01:19 AM »
to me, his style is similar to Hindemith and Bartok

HUH???

I've owned these symphonies on LP when they were first released so I know them very well. Those works do not sound remotely like Hindemith or Bartok. 

Offline sound67

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2007, 05:24:14 AM »
I wouldn't say "similar", but there are analogies between Henze's and Hindemith's works.

I.e. for Symphonies Nos. 1-5. No.6 (blub-blub) must have been some sort of joke.

Thomas
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

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Offline not edward

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2007, 05:42:10 AM »
To me, the more obvious influences in the first five are Berg and Stravinsky (one could say Hartmann too).

The Sixth is one of those things that must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it has dated horribly.

My favourite of the cycle is the Seventh (recorded well by Rattle; I haven't heard Cambreling's take). The Eighth is also a strong work, but unfortunately DG seems to have been stalling forever on releasing Knussen's recording of it. I find the Ninth intermittently powerful but too monotonous in tone and haven't heard the Tenth in any detail.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
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karlhenning

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2007, 05:44:28 AM »
Most interesting, thank you, Edward!

greg

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #5 on: September 19, 2007, 08:42:49 AM »
i have this exact set  ;D
fun to listen to, every now and then


BTW, what is the percussive instrument that sounds like "popping" sound in his Sixth Symphony?
are you talking about a popping sound like, possibly, a plucked solo violin microphone and lightly distorted? maybe it's another popping sound. (or maybe he's instructed a performer to break the strings off of a violin?...)

Offline Catison

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #6 on: September 19, 2007, 11:00:11 AM »
What's the deal with the 6th?  Why is it so horrid?
-Brett

Offline not edward

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #7 on: September 19, 2007, 11:21:17 AM »
What's the deal with the 6th?  Why is it so horrid?
It's basically "One of those Sixties Things."

Henze was in Cuba at the time he wrote it (shortly afterwards, he was ejected from the country by Castro) and tried to write an avant-garde piece for two orchestras using lots of Cuban rhythms to celebrate the Great Socialist Revolution or something. It's a mess, and a classic example of unnecessary density, misunderstanding of popular music and mistaken idealism.

IMO, there actually are some good works that came out of Henze's Cuban trip, but this symphony is emphatically not one of them.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline sound67

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #8 on: September 19, 2007, 12:48:42 PM »
There's a story about Henze when he was conducting a German orchestra.

He couldn't stop bragging that he was a communist and about all the socialist ideals he had.

Until a member of the orchestra couldn't take it anymore.

"You know, if I owned an island in the Mediterranean I would be a Communist, too."

Mr. Henze was very quiet after that.

Thomas
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

"Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours." - Norman Lebrecht

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2007, 12:59:41 PM »
For such a major living composer and symphonist it is odd that one cannot currently obtain CDs of the 8th or 9th symphonies. I have to say that I find Henze a bit hard-going and sometimes wonder how much of his music will survive as time goes on but I do try to appreciate what I have heard. The 10th symphony is available in a recording by the Orchestre National de Montpelier-not an orchestra one would expect to be playing Henze?-conducted by Friedemann Layer on the Accord label. How good a performance I am certainly not qualified to judge!

greg

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #10 on: September 20, 2007, 05:37:40 AM »
What's the deal with the 6th?  Why is it so horrid?
i like it, while it isn't GREAT, it's still a fun mess

Offline MISHUGINA

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2007, 05:40:15 PM »
I think that sound I mentioned could be a champagne popper.  :P
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Offline not edward

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #12 on: September 20, 2007, 05:53:58 PM »
I think that sound I mentioned could be a champagne popper.  :P
A champagne popper for a champagne Communist. How appropriate. ;)
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline Cato

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2007, 09:53:39 AM »
If you can find it, there is a fairly good analysis/multiple biography called Hindemith, Hartmann, Henze by Guy Richard.  The author shows the connections or at least the parallels among all 3: the Henze - Hartmann connection is especially interesting.
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Offline not edward

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2007, 10:01:00 AM »
If you can find it, there is a fairly good analysis/multiple biography called Hindemith, Hartmann, Henze by Guy Richard.  The author shows the connections or at least the parallels among all 3: the Henze - Hartmann connection is especially interesting.
Yes, one side of Henze always strikes me as a less successful version of Hartmann (of course there's more to that in Henze's music).

One thing I find most striking about current German contemporary music is that the Mahler-Berg-Hartmann-Henze line is still going strong: Henze's pupil Detlev Glanert is very technically accomplished and his music (IMO) just needs a bit more emotional depth to vault him up the ranks of contemporary composers, while Wolfgang Rihm has been developing a very Hartmannesque expressionist side to his writing in recent years (see, for example, the wonderful Vers une symphonie fleuve series).
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

Offline sound67

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2007, 09:01:29 AM »
Glanert certainly is a very prolific, and successful composer. I saw him twice in consecutive years at the Proms, presenting new works. Such a thing doesn't happen very often at the Proms these days.

Last season, our opera house in Frankfurt presented his new work "Caligula". For a stage work on such a potentially "saucy" subject, the opera was disappointingly tame, with a musical language derived from Berg, Webern, even harking back to Richard Strauss. There weren't even "boo's" at the premiere, which means that "Caligula" should be forgotten very quickly.

Henze is, to a certain extent, also a "safe" composer, but IMHO on a higher level.

Thomas
"Vivaldi didn't compose 500 concertos. He composed the same concerto 500 times" - Igor Stravinsky

"Mozart is a menace to musical progress, a relic of rituals that were losing relevance in his own time and are meaningless to ours." - Norman Lebrecht

Offline not edward

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2007, 09:09:10 AM »
Glanert certainly is a very prolific, and successful composer. I saw him twice in consecutive years at the Proms, presenting new works. Such a thing doesn't happen very often at the Proms these days.

Last season, our opera house in Frankfurt presented his new work "Caligula". For a stage work on such a potentially "saucy" subject, the opera was disappointingly tame, with a musical language derived from Berg, Webern, even harking back to Richard Strauss. There weren't even "boo's" at the premiere, which means that "Caligula" should be forgotten very quickly.

Henze is, to a certain extent, also a "safe" composer, but IMHO on a higher level.

Thomas
A pity to hear that: it sounds as if Glanert's tendency to play it safe is even more of a problem than I'd seen from my limited exposure to his music.

That's one thing I've been very glad of when hearing Rihm's explorations of this sort of musical territory: IMO for him making use of a more musically conservative language has not led to any kind of playing it safe.
"I don't at all mind actively disliking a piece of contemporary music, but in order to feel happy about it I must consciously understand why I dislike it. Otherwise it remains in my mind as unfinished business."
 -- Aaron Copland, The Pleasures of Music

johnQpublic

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #17 on: September 26, 2007, 01:02:30 AM »
BTW, what is the percussive instrument that sounds like "popping" sound in his Sixth Symphony?

It's a thin plate of metal that "pops" when you flex it. See the bottom of the instrumentation from his publisher's website:

Orchestra instrumentation: Orchester I: 2 (2. auch Picc.) · 0 · Engl. Hr. · 0 · Bassklar. · 2 (2. auch Kfg.) - 2 · 0 · 3 · 0 - S (I: 3 Bong. · Glspl. · Vibr. · III: Tamt. · kl. Tr. · gr. Tr. · Metallplatte · 3 Herdengl.) - Hfe. · Klav. · Git. (auch Banjo oder Charango mit Kontaktmikr. ad lib) - Str. (12 · 0 · 6 · 6 · 4) Orchester II: 0 · Altfl. · 2 · 2 (2. auch Piccoloklar.) · Tenorsax. · 0 - 2 · 3 (3. auch Tr. in hoch B) · 0 · 0 - P.S. (II: Mar. · hg. Bambusstäbe · Kettenrassel auf Beck. · Kettenrassel auf Paukenfell · Marimb. · IV: 3 hg. Beck. · Tamt. · 6 Tomt. · Guiro · Metallplatte) - elektr. Org. (Beat-Org.) - Viol. mit Kontaktmikr. · Str. (12 · 0 · 6 · 6 · 4)

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2007, 06:10:35 AM »
For anyone who has noticed-Capriccio is issuing a recording of Henze's Symphony No.8 this month. The Gurzenich Orchestra conducted by Markus Stenz(CAP71134).

Offline some guy

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Re: Hans Werner Henze symphonies
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2007, 10:10:03 AM »
Well, I must say that what I find odd about this thread is that the sixth has been universally excoriated. Even the lone poster who likes it was quick to agree that it's a mess.

I hadn't listened to this set since LP days--and I had never owned it. Had to borrow it from a friend. When I recently bought it on CD, I only remembered a small bit from the end of the fourth.

But one thing I'm sure of, the sixth is the pick of the litter. It's inventive and colorful and various and less tied to musics of the past than one through five. It's fun to go around chasing influences and parallels--really! But only for awhile. And once that's over, one is left with the sounds. The sixth sounds good. Far from being dated, it's the one that comes out sounding the freshest.