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  • Krása: Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream, 1933)
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Krása: Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream, 1933)

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Product details

  • Performer: Jane Henschel, Juanita Lascarro, Charlotte Hellekant, Bogna Bartosz
  • Orchestra: Senff Chamber Chorus, Berlin Deutsches Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Lothar Zagrosek, Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Composer: Hans Krása
  • Audio CD (14 April 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Entartete Musik
  • ASIN: B0000069D6
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,765 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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  • Sample this album Title - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Product Description

Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream, 1933) is based on the tragic-comic novella Uncle's Dream by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The doddering foolish Prince is tricked by social climber Maria Alexandrovna into proposing to her daughter Zina. The Prince is soon just as easily tricked by Paul, Zina's suitor, to believe the betrothal was all a dream. ------------------------ Musically, the opera is charming and dramatic, as well as poignant without being sentimental. The styles in the opening scenes sound like a deranged marriage between Giacomo Puccini and Arnold Schoenberg, whom Krasa worshipped. The abrupt changes from tender tonalism to spitting dissonance is all Krasa's though. He plays with contrasts in the natural speech sequences too. -- Conductor Lothar Zagrosek seems to have dwelled in Krasa's cabarets and absorbed their revue patter songs. His complex tempo shifts and keen dramatic sense lured me into Act II, eager for the next bar. He didn't disappoint. In this resolution, Krasa's characters hum, whistle, declaim, and sing their machinations to each other and themselves. Krasa's skill at handling ensembles, his peppery dissonance, and his subtle orchestration at the Chekovian climax make this bittersweet work more engaging and memorable than his other vocal works, such as the simplistic children's opera, Brundibar.--------- The other piece on this CD is the Symphonie (1923), a youthful tone poem with Debussy's and Stravinsky's shadows shimmering against its walls. French critic Roland-Manuel spoke of Krasa's "spirit of ironic poetry." The final movement is an atonal aria of Rimbaud's eerie poem "The Lice-Pickers." Musically, it is neither shocking or beautiful, nor does it break any new ground. However, it is an intriguing miniature and a worthy item in any Entartete Musik collection.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Whitaker on 25 Sept. 2010
Format: Audio CD
Hans Krása (1899-1944) came of age in his native Prague, which was a major crossroads during a watershed period of European musical life. If his early promise had not been cut short by World War II and the Holocaust, Krása might have continued emerging as an influential composer of his generation.

Krása learned piano and violin as a child and went on to study composition with Alexander Zemlinsky. After graduating from the German Music Academy in Prague, he became a vocal coach at Prague's German Theater, and briefly worked in Berlin at the Kroll Opera before returning to Prague. While thoroughly grounded in the music of the classical and romantic masters, Krása was strongly influenced by the new directions of the early twentieth century, especially impressionism and other French music. In the late 1920s he traveled to Paris to study with Albert Roussel. Krása self-consciously sought to reconcile traditional tonality with modernism. Of his musical style Krása wrote: "I am sufficiently daring, as a modern composer, to write melodic music. This reflects my whole attitude to music, whether it is called modern or anything else. My music is strictly founded on the concept of accessible melodic character."

Krása's first important success as a composer came in 1920 with his Four Orchestral Songs, based on the "Songs from the Gallows" poems of Christian Morgenstern. His 1923 Symphony was performed under Serge Koussevitzky in Boston, and his 1933 prize-winning opera Verlobung im Traum (Betrothal in a Dream), based on a Dostoevsky story, was conducted in Prague by George Szell.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Superb performances of deeply fascinating music 18 Sept. 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Hans Krasa (1899-1944) was one of many composers killed in the Holocaust. His children's opera Brundibar has managed to gain a foothold in the repertoire, but it is good to have his "real" opera Verlobung im Traum (1928-30) based on Dostoyevsky's novella "Uncle's Dream" available as well. It is a fascinating and rewarding work, written in a style that - in a very personal manner - appears to combine something of Italian verismo and the lyricism of Dvorak with Schoenberg (and the result sounds uncannily like a dissonant, Bergian take on Janacek, complete with the melodic adaption of natural speech). It combines romantic tunefulness and melody, even including Casta Diva in the work sung by the character Zina (explicitly a contralto in Dostoyevsky's novella but a soprano here), with stark dissonance and grim expressionism, and it is actually rather remarkable that Krasa pulls it off as convincingly as he does. Indeed, to top it all, Krasa also throws in elements of the music theatre in a manner slightly reminiscent of Weil.

One could, in other works, even perhaps say that Krasa's Verlobung im Traum captures the essence of and sums up the operatic styles prevalent at the time of writing (some have dismissed is as pastiche, but I do think Krasa pulls the strands together into something pretty unified and stylistically convincing). And Lothar Zagrosek and the German Symphony Orchestra certainly captures the multifaceted style pretty admirably - you get the subtle stylistic references as well as the variegated textures, alluring drama, dramatic shifts in tempo and character, power, momentum and sheer innovativeness of the work; there is plenty of color and even humor in the performance, but the stark shifts in atmospheres and mood are impressively captured as well. The vocal soloists are splendid, and manages the stylistic shifts and varying character impressively. Particular praise should go to Juanita Lascarro's superb Zina, as impressive in dissonant anger as in bel canto beauty, but none of the singers ever fall below good.

In short, Verlobuing is a remarkable and splendidly crafted score, sharp and jagged, colorful and multifaceted but in my view stylistically coherent nonetheless. It is coupled with a performance of the early Symphonie (1923) given in a performance conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy. Scored for chamber orchestra it often sounds like an eerily glittering, gossamer-textured symphonic poem with a touch of sardonic wit, drawing on Debussy and Stravinsky as much as Schoenberg. It is not a masterpiece, but it is nevertheless rather captivating and receives a beautiful, committed performance. Overall, I'd say the music here is something of a find, marvelously executed, and comprising a set that should be snapped up by anyone interested in the music of the period.
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