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New release

CD Chamber Music & Songs with the Ernst Krenek Ensemble and guests



Guest commentary by Australian musicologist and Krenek expert, Peter Tregear

This CD, Chamber Music and Songs, Volume One (TOCC 0295), is an unquestionably significant addition to the Krenek discography.
Krenek’s international reputation as a composer was established, and is largely sustained today, on the success of his works in the large-scale genres of opera, symphony, and string quartet. The sheer breadth and depth of his compositional output for chamber forces, however, is much less well known.
This CD showcases such music, drawn from over forty years of Krenek’s career. From works composed as a pupil of Franz Schreker, in the twilight years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; to those dating from his years in America as a composer and teacher working mostly with dodecaphonic and serial compositional techniques.
There is no doubt that major historical events of the twentieth century, in particular the two
World Wars and the rise and fall of the Third Reich, affected Krenek profoundly. Part of the sheer diversity of his compositional output is directly attributable to how this history impacted him professionally and personally. The collection of music on this CD enables us to discover how, despite the apparent contrasts of origin and style, each works share an interest in exploring boundaries between the musical conventions of his day (whether they be those drawn from popular music traditions or the avant-garde) and sheer novelty. Novelty between tonality and atonality, and between order and freedom in their form and content. Krenek’s underlying compositional voice, his sense of melancholic wistfulness and gentle irony, is present throughout—which gives his music its deserved reputation as one of the great artistic witnesses of the twentieth century.

The CD, released by the Toccata Label, was recorded by the prestigious members of the Ernst Krenek Ensemble: Hannah Weinmeister (violin), Christian Eisenberger (violin), Tatjana Masurenko (viola), Dorothea Schönwiese (violoncello), Matthias Schorn (clarinet), Anthony Spiri (piano), and guests, including the baritone Florian Boesch, the soprano Laura Aikin, mezzo-soprano Bernarda Fink, pianist Nina Tichman, and others. The CD is available here