One of the world's greatest living composers and most inspired individualists, Hans Werner Henze, celebrates his 75th birthday this year.
One of the world's greatest living composers and most inspired individualists, Hans Werner Henze, celebrates his 75th birthday this year. Already, 2001 has seen a superlative new Henze work on disc—Six Songs From the Arabian, with tenor Ian Bostridge, from EMI—and now we have a set of older, orchestral material led by sympathetic conductor Peter Ruzicka. Quattro Poemi and La Selva Incantata—the latter a transcription of an aria and rondo from Henze's mid-'50s opera König Hirsch—showcases the composer's distinct mix of Italianate lyricism and Germanic rigor. Similarly, the orchestral lieder of Nachstücke und Arien channels the most beautiful aspects of classical tradition into a bold, modern form (although not modern enough to keep the draconian young Boulez and Stockhausen from walking out on its premiere). The early Three Symphonic Etudes is serialism after Berg—rigorous but emotionally expressive. The booklet includes an excellent interview with Henze. A division of the Mainz, Germany-based publisher Schott, Wergo is distributed in the U.S. and U.K. by Harmonia Mundi.—BB