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Ernst Krenek: Complete Symphonies nos 1-5 / NDR PO Hannover [4 CDs]

Notes & Reviews:

Almost 20 years ago CPO recorded Krenek's symphonies and released them in rapid succession. Following the recent discovery of the score of Symphony No. 4 in the U.S., CPO also released this work, which had been regarded as lost. And now, they are proud to present the complete recordings of Krenek's symphonic works featuring all five symphonies in a box set. The NDR Radio Philharmonic, certainly one of the most inquisitive German radio orchestras, holds in store precise and atmospherically rich interpretations.


Works:

Symphony no 1, Op. 7 by Ernst Krenek

Conductor: Takao Ukigaya
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1921; Vienna, Austria

Symphony no 5, Op. 119 by Ernst Krenek

Conductor: Takao Ukigaya
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1947-1949; USA

Symphony no 2, Op. 12 by Ernst Krenek

Conductor: Takao Ukigaya
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1922; Germany

Symphony no 3, Op. 16 by Ernst Krenek

Conductor: Takao Ukigaya
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1922; Austria

Potpourri, Op. 54 by Ernst Krenek

Conductor: Takao Ukigaya
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1927

Symphony no 4, Op. 113 by Ernst Krenek

Conductor: Alun Francis
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1947; USA
Length: 30 Minutes 26 Secs.

Concerto Grosso, Op. 25 by Ernst Krenek

Performer: Nikolai Schneider (Cello), Volker Worlitzsch (Violin), Dimitar Penkov (Viola)
Conductor: Alun Francis
Orchestra/Ensemble: North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1924; Germany
Length: 26 Minutes 52 Secs.



Reviews

Outstanding overview of an overlooked composer
It took a while but CPO finally issued the last installment of their cycle Ernst Krenek symphonies. Krenek is best known for his Weill-like opera Johnny Spielt Auf, a product of the Weimar years. Itís not really a fair representation of Krenekís style.

He was much more interested in the atonal compositions of Schoenberg and Webern, and that interest is reflected in his orchestral compositions. The first symphony (1921) is neo-romantic, reflecting the influence of his teacher, Franz Schreker. But even in this work, the harmonies have a slight edge to them, and itís easy to hear where Krenek wants to go.

The second symphony (1922) is more aggressively atonal, but there are still lyrical post-romantic elements there that keep the work sounding a little more conservative than Weber. The third symphony (also written in 1922) has Krenek coming into his own as a composer, and even though it could be classified as atonal, thereís a compelling logic behind the work that makes it more than just an academic exercise. The harmonies, though dissonant, are expressive, and the symphonyís charged with energy.

The fourth and fifth symphonies have no elements of the early Krenekís style. And yet, while they encompass the most modern aesthetic of the day, they have a surface organization and coherence that isnít as readily apparent in other atonal composers of the 1950ís.

All in all, these five symphonies are an exciting body of work. Each composition has its own character. Although Krenek kept pace with the avant garde, each work is unmistakably in Krenekís compositional voice, providing a continuity across the set.

An additional treat are the fillers Ė the Concerto Grosso No. 2 and Potpourri show a more relaxed and more lyrical side to the composer. Krenek chose to write atonal music, but these works show he had the skill to be melodic when he wanted to. A fine set that should do much to raise Krenekís profile.

Submitted on 06/25/12 by RGraves321 
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