Reznicek: Der Sieger / Jurowski, Cologne Radio So
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Reznicek continues to impress as the biggest fin-de-siècle discovery since Korngold. If you took my extremely wise advice and purchased Schlemihl, the prequel to Der Sieger, then you may have an idea of what to expect, except that this work is even better. True, there's no Witches' Sabbath featuring a naked hag with pendulous breasts riding around on a pig singing "Ach! Du lieber Augustin". But then, how many times can you repeat that? Instead this three-movement extravaganza, scored for tons of winds, brass, percussion, alto soloist, and choir, features a central Dance around the Golden Calf based on the Dies Irae that's even wilder and more brilliantly scored.
Prior to that, we have a Straussian (only better orchestrated) Ascent and Female Companion--not that one has much to do with the other--and the work concludes with, you guessed it, Death. After the finale paroxysm, the soloist and choir deliver the moral of the story with positively sadistic sweetness: being wealthy is worthless, being poor is worthless, everything is worthless. After all that has come before, this is decadence and nihilism on a scale that will leave you breathless with admiration. I do hope that CPO gets around to recording Reznicek's "Ironic" Symphony. I'll bet that's a hoot too.
As with the previous release in this series, Michail Jurowski and the WDR orchestra play the living daylights out of the music. The brass handle the considerable demands that Reznicek makes on them with aplomb, the singers sound aptly mellifluous, and CPO's recording is outstanding. If you like big orchestral works of the Mahler/Strauss school, then you owe it to yourself to hear this. Reznicek has a distinctive voice and a technique as virtuosic and highly polished as anyone's from the period. Outstanding. [8/23/2004]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: 999898-2
Composer: E. Nikolaus von Reznicek
Conductor: Michail Jurowski
Orchestra/Ensemble: Cologne West German Radio Chorus, Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Performer: Beate Koepp