Of all the composers of the generation that attempted a new artistic beginning after the Second World War, Hans Werner Henze has always been notable for his strong connection to literature. It is especially his reference to Friedrich Hölderlin and Georg Trakl that shows the exact contrast to the ideals of the Nazi propaganda: the life and work of both poets represent individuality, complexity, the sensitive exploration of feeling, and vulnerability to the utmost degree. For a long time, the late works by Hölderlin had been labelled as products of the madness of the last decades of his life. The text of his hymn 'In lieblicher Bläue' was used by Henze for his 'Kammermusik 1958'. The large-scale cycle of vocal and instrumental movements accepts Hölderlin s ideas and builds upon them in an 'act of identification': By persisting, rising up, or remaining silent between sound images, the music enlarges, illuminates, or emphasizes. While the poetry uses the music like a reader, the music uses the poetry like a performer in a concert. (Henze) Designed according to dodecaphonic principles, the work 'Apollo et Hyazinthus' (1948/49) turns out to be highly individual in many respects. Following Trakl's poetry, the genre varies between chamber music, symphonic poem, harpsichord concerto and orchestral song. In addition, the subtle floating between tonality and atonality gives the piece its distinctive character. In 1982, on the occasion of a viola congress, Henze created a septet entitled 'Canzona per sette strumenti' which centres on three violas. The title is reminiscent of the music of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is particularly the highly ornamented melodies of the oboe that bring to mind Renaissance and early Baroque music.
this disc is a salutary reminder of the strengths of a composer whose music had begun to be sidelined well before his recent death. We can ill afford to neglect it. --Arnold Whitall, Gramophone Feb 2013