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Best Recordings of 2010 (# 5)

This continues the “Best Recordings of 2010” countdown. You can view the choices so far here. The lists from the previous years: 2009, (2009 – “Almost”), 2008, (2008 - "Almost") 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004.

# 5 - New Release

K.A.Hartmann, “Simplicius Simplicissimus' Youth”, Munich RSO / Ulf Schirmer / Nylund, Gerhaher, Volle et al., BR Klassik 900301

available at AmazonK.A.Hartmann, Simplicius Simplicissimus' Youth, Munich RSO / Ulf Schirmer / Nylund, Gerhaher, Volle et al.
BR Klassik 900301
Karl Amadeus Hartmann is one of the great composers of the 20th century; among those composers who were hampered in his career first by the Nazi takeover and then by the severe post-war avant-garde aesthetic, he was probably the most successful. Not the least because he was wise enough to fully embrace the new music. Not in his own musical language, but administratively by founding the Music Viva series in Munich which was and probably still is one of the most important contemporary music institutions.

“Simplicissimus” (subtitled “Developmental pictures from a German destiny according to H.J.Chr. Grimmelshausen”, with a libretto by Hermann Scherchen and the composer) was written between 1934 and 36 (“an homage to Prokofiev”) and then extensively revised in 1955/56, now dedicated to Carl Orff. It is the original version of the opera that is performed on this recording, but considerably edited and amalgamated for radio broadcasting by composer Wilfried Hiller. Unconnected scenes guide us from Simplicissimus the naïve youth to the wizened fool, shaped by living through the 30 Years War.

The result is a fantastic and uncomfortable, intriguing-compelling 90-minute opera. I don’t enjoy the spoken chorus that follows the overture (pointing to the fact that Germany’s population was decimated by three quarters between 1618 and 1648) but that’s due to the funny pronunciation of “DEUTSCH-land” (German)… the rest is Hartmann’s angular and organic language that someone who thinks highly of Stravinsky’s “Rake’s Progress” and “Histoire du soldat”, or Britten’s operas would have an easy time loving. It helps having two of Germany’s best baritone complement the cast around Camilla Nylund and Will Hartmann; the live recording of the ‘little’ Radio Orchestra in Munich (also part of the Bavarian Broadcasting but not to be mistaken with the flagship BRSO) under Ulf Schirmer is first rate.

# 5 – Reissue

G.Mahler, Symphony No. 10 (vers. Bashai), R.Barshai / German Youth Philharmonic, Brilliant 94040

available at AmazonG.Mahler, Symphony No.10,
R.Barshai / German Youth Philharmonic
Brilliant 94040
My favorite version of Mahler’s Tenth is the daring, imaginative, Shostakovichean performing version Rudolf Barshai (RIP). The release coupled with the dark-horse favorite Fifth (also re-released) on Brilliant had been out of print for a while. That it is easily and cheaply available now is a blessing for all Mahler fans.

-> Best Recordings of 2010 #1
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #2
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #3
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #4
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #6
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #7
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #8
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #9
-> Best Recordings of 2010 #10

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