Skip to main content. Subscribe to Music Tales. Top stories. Collaboration Shakespearean characters expressed through atonality in atypical guitar sonata by Hans Werner Henze March 22, Hans Werner Henze.
|Published (Last):||11 March 2011|
|PDF File Size:||15.85 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||15.25 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
About this Recording 8. A brief glance at Henze's catalogue outlines a formidable series of symphonies, stage works both opera and ballet , concertos and quartets, and it is on these large-scale and solidly Teutonic structures, often unconventional in formal design and personal in their approach, that his stature as one of Europe's foremost composers rests.
Born in Westphalia in , Henze received his earliest musical training against the background of Nazism, becoming a reluctant recruit into the Hitler Youth movement and, in , serving as a radio operator with a Panzer division.
It was, however, the music of Stravinsky, Hindemith and Schoenberg that Henze turned to as models for his earliest neo-classical pieces whose innate lyricism was to mark his oeuvre across a sixty-year composing career. Both his first Violin Concerto and First Symphony of quickly established Henze as Germany's answer to the musical vacuum resulting from the aftermath of Nazism.
Unhappy with post war social attitudes and ashamed of Germany's recent past he moved to Italy in ; first to Ischia, then Naples, and eventually settling near Rome. As well as these large-scale 'public' works Henze found time in the s for a number of more private projects, including three string quartets, and his two Shakespearean themed guitar sonatas. This Second Sonata on Shakespearean Characters dates from and, like the first from three years earlier, was prompted by the distinguished guitarist Julian Bream.
The three character studies from the second group complete a cycle of nine solo guitar pieces six in the first set that begin with a mad king and end with a mad queen. Henze makes virtuosic demands in all of these works, extending the boundaries of guitar technique in a comprehensive survey that brings to mind, on a different level, the great keyboard works by Bach or Beethoven. Indeed, when Julian Bream first approached Henze for a solo guitar work he had jokingly suggested a piece on the scale of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata.
In 'Sir Andrew Aguecheek' Henze uses a kind of additive variation form to portray the gullible and melancholy knight from Twelfth Night who was 'adored once'.
Appoggiaturas and sweet-sounding chords point to his gentle nature. This gentle mood is carried over in 'Bottom's Dream', the dream of the simple weaver from A Midsummer Night's Dream in which the opening thirds convey his serene dream-like state. Melodic compactness and counterpoint punctuated by frequent rests and empty bars create a sense of elasticity and pleasant languor. This mood is swept aside by the dramatic motif beginning the remarkably imaginative and searching portrait of Mad Lady Macbeth.
The opening malevolent flourish conveys, in just a few notes, her ruthless power and volatile mood. In its dissonance, sudden changes of pace and weight and restless central dance episodes, Henze draws us into her unstable state of mind, bringing motivic ideas back a half step higher to depict Lady Macbeth's rising hysteria. Its virtuosic vocal writing, covering a range of two octaves, is largely atonal and expressionistic; its musical language recalling his brief preoccupation with serialism at Darmstadt.
By deliberate contrast Henze musically illustrates the polarity between the world of ancient Greece and the modern world , the writing for the guitar is far less complex: in the first, the accompaniment looks back across the centuries to a Dowland lute-song, the second is more contemporary and chromatic, while the third borrows from Benjamin Britten to whom the work is dedicated.
The first piece, essentially lyrical, is characterized by a terseness of material based on a recurring four-note motif, with a high tessitura and a dynamic level that rarely rises above pianissimo. The second features driving rhythms that propel the semiquaver movement forward in the manner of Stravinsky. Lyricism returns in the third, this time with melodic contours of Neapolitan origin. Henze constructs a dialogue between the instruments in the manner of its title.
In his performance directions Henze stipulates that each of the three instrumentalists may play their part as a solo as well as in combination with one another.
In this performance there are six sections: piano, viola and guitar alone, followed by two duets and a final trio. In returning to goal-orientated harmony Henze allies himself with German romanticism in this work's rhapsodic style and rich textures. These seven movements from are derived from his musical play Oedipus der Tyrann King Oedipus of that was later withdrawn.
The Styrian folk material is suggested through rhythmic and melodic fragments. After the brief and melancholy 'Morgenlied' there follows a more energetic 'Ballade' in which constantly changing metre heard first in the guitar provides a rhythmic landscape to the melodic counterpoint that unfolds as each instrument enters. There is an extended cadenza and a concluding reminiscence of the opening. The rustic 'Tanz' gives prominence to bassoon and guitar in another lively peasant dance which gives way as does the tonality to a 'Rezitativ', featuring just guitar and strings, now of more expressionistic character.
David Truslove. Close the window.
Shakespearean characters expressed through atonality in atypical guitar sonata by Hans Werner Henze
List of compositions by Hans Werner Henze
More by Hans Werner Henze