Composer: Hans Werner Henze
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Oliver Knussen
The relationship between Hans Werner Henze and Oliver Knussen was one of great mutual respect. The German composer admired the British conductor and composer for electrifying performances of Henze’s own and other composers’ works. Knussen was an untiring and enthusiastic champion of his friend Henze’s music.
The recordings collected here display Knussen’s deep understanding of Henze’s music. Knussen conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in sensitive and meticulous performances of compositions ranging from the composer’s middle period to his last completed work.
Los Caprichos transforms the bitterness and sarcasm in Francisco Goya’s famous series of etchings into a tender and melancholy “Fantasia per orchestra” that makes only sparing use of contemporary stylistic devices. The large orchestral work Heliogabalus Imperator – a programmatic depiction of the life and death of the notorious Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus – also provides evidence of Henze’s self-assured and idiosyncratic interpretation of modern music idioms. The Englische Liebeslieder for solo violoncello and orchestra express a wide range of emotional states, which are brought to life by cellist Anssi Karttunen.