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24 May 2013
"Michael Gees can conjure rustling twigs and rolling waves out of his keys "Luister, 11-11-2013
Alban Berg was an Austrian composer. Berg studied from 1904 to 1910 under Arnold Schoenberg and together with his teacher and fellow student Anton Webern he is part of the Second Viennese School. Berg married with Helene Nahowski (1885-1976), a singer who was a daughter from Anna Nahowski and, allegedly, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
At first, Berg applied a free atonality, but later he started developing strict twelve tone techniques and combined these to a style which, despite its expressionistic character, reminds of the Late Romantic music of Gustav Mahler.
During his own time, Gustav Mahler was considered as one of the major conductors of Europe, but nowadays he is considered to a major composer who bridged the Late Romantic period to the modern age.
Few composers are so connected with the symphonic repertory as Gustav Mahler. Composing symphonies was his "core business": in every aspect he developed the symphony towards, and sometimes even over, its absolute limits. Almost all of Mahler's symphonies are lenghty, demand a large orchestra and are particularly great in their expressive qualities. With rustic and mythical atmospheres (the start of the First Symphony), daunting chaos (the end of his Sixth), grand visions (end of his Second), cheerful melodies (opening Fourth), romantic melancholy (the famous adagio of his Fifth), evocations of nature (his Third), megalomanic eruptions in the orchestra (his Eighth), and the clamant atonality of his unfinished Tenth, Mahler's musical palette seemed inexhaustible.
His symphonies are captivating, but some could find it a bit 'over the top' at times. For those, his orchestral songs could undoubtedly show there is an incredibly subtle and refined side to his compositional style as well.
In the Netherlands, Mahler is particularly popular due to its close bond with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, which was already established during his lifetime!
Together with Gustav Mahler, Hugo Wolf can be considered as one of the greatest composers of Late Romantic lieder. Both of them followed the tradition of Schubert and Schumann, but intensified the gerne with Wagner's techniques of text declamation and harmonic development. What makes Wolf's song cycles special, is the fact that often they are devoted to a single poet, like in his Mörike-Lieder (1889), Eichendorff-Lieder (1889) en Goethe-Lieder (1890). For each cycle, he spent a considerable time studying the text to create the best matching music. His accomodation of musical structure, harmonic subteties and pianistic texture are all inseperable from the lyrics. Partly due to his psychological sophistication his songs can be heard as miniature operas.
Even though he did start writing on several full-fledged operas, it never became a true succes. Only his opera Der Corregidor (1896) was completed. Things went downhill from there. In 1897, Wolf had a nervous breakdown as a consequence of a syphilis infection he had since his teens. After a failed suicide attempt, he was admitted to a clinic in Vienna. The somber Michelangelo-Lieder (1898) would become his last completed composition. Wolf died in 1903, three weeks before his 43st birthday.
Arnold Schoenberg was one of the most influential composers of the 20th century, but perhaps also one of the least listened to. Strikingly, Schoenberg was self-educated, even though his music is imbedded in complex music theory. It was Schoenberg who definitely departed from tonality and he developed the twelve tone technique. In this composition style, one has to use every twelve tones of the scale, before one can be repeated. The struggle to adhere to this dogma is clearly audible: his music is tense, hectic and particularly acute - and therefore at times not that accesible to occasional listeners.
Nevertheless, his music and his liberation of tonality had an enormous impact on all composers that came after him. Together with the music of his students Alban Berg and Anton Webern, his style is often referred to as the Second Viennese School, parallel to the First Viennese School of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, who, in a similar vein, changed the history of music for good.
His most performed works are his string sextet Verklärte Nacht, his five Orchestra pieces op. 16, and his opera Moses und Aron. The development of Schoenberg's music can be heard in his Five String Quartets in particular.
Michael Gees can conjure rustling twigs and rolling waves out of his keys
Luister , 11-11-2013
Their artistic tour gives us the opportunity to ride along for a while
Staal kaart, 01-11-2013
"Kleiter and Gees have chosen thematically related songs and arranged that there was a context in which each song was more expressive"
Julia Kleiter's precious lyrical soprano sounds absolutely pure, occasionally almost chaste.
"Add to that the fact that the level of performance is of superior content, such that one should not speak of a singing voice with instrumental accompaniment but two completely equal partners, and it is clear that this is an issue of the absolute top class level of musicians. Kleiter is able with her voice to go through all sorts of dynamic nuances to make almost tangible the emotions which are sealed in the texts in a simultaneously subtle and immediately way. Gees does this by the power of a pianism which contains a sensuality that is the hallmark of the greatest instrumentalists in this area. One can listen for instance to the end of Bergs "Nacht", which I have never heard with such an exciting rubato. And time and time again one is struck by the velvety pianissimi[…] In summary: a CD that both artistically and educationally scores very high and can be seen as a standard as such."
"A cd that both artistically and educationally have a very high score and as such a measure states"
Particularly special is 'Sternklare Nacht' from Hermann Hesse in free improvisation by Kleiter and Gees.
Gees and Kleiter are well-rehearsed and they succeed a tight and fascinating interpretation of the songs which seem to reflect and explain each other. Gees is a magician at the piano and Kleiter strikes the notional and emotional point of every song.