Hausegger: Natursymphonie / Rasilainen, Cologne West German Radio SO

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*** This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. ***

If you're a fan of Mahler, Strauss, or late Romanticism in general, this disc is a must-listen. Siegmund von Hausegger (1872-1948) wrote only five orchestral works, but this 1911 "everything but the kitchen sink" hour-long extravaganza is a whopper of a piece. Scored for a generously outfitted orchestra including harps, celesta, organ, lots of percussion, and a chorus in the last movement, much of the piece sounds a lot like the "Keikobad" music in Strauss' opera Die Frau ohne Schatten--and that's a good thing. In other words, you might describe it as "darkly glittering", in that Hausegger's basic sonority includes lots of warm lower strings and deep brass, German style, gilded with harp, celesta, high woodwinds, and percussion. The result often has a primal feel that justifies the symphony's title.

That said, there is nothing overtly pictorial about the music. The second movement, a funeral march that would have made Mahler proud, is perhaps the most impressive single section, while the piece closes with a typically Teutonic chorus about the sacred and infinite wonderfulness of creativity (or words to that effect). To be honest, the symphony doesn't really need the choral finale, but it's only 10 minutes long out of an hour, and it does build to an impressively rousing concluding peroration--brass and organ well to the fore.

One thing is certain: right from the opening brass calls, Ari Rasilainen leads a remarkably confident and urgent interpretation of this difficult and unfamiliar work. Everyone involved seems to have realized that the music deserves the best they have to offer, and the engineering captures it all with plenty of impact in both SACD and normal stereo. In short, this is a real discovery.

-- David Hurwitz, [3/13/2008]

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 777237-2

  • UPC: 761203723720

  • Label: CPO

  • Composer: Siegmund von Hausegger

  • Conductor: Ari Rasilainen

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Cologne West German Radio Chorus, Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra