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Paul Von Klenau : Symphonies Nos. 1 & 5, Paolo Und Francesca

Wagner/Odense Symphony Orchestra Audio CD

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1. Sym No.1 in f: Einleitung: Sehr Ruhig
2. Sym No.1 in f: Feierlich. Getragen
3. Sym No.1 in f: Adagio Espressivo
4. Sym No.1 in f: Allegro Moderato
5. Sym No.1 in f: Allegro Non Troppo (Alla Breve)
6. Sym No.5 'Triptikon': Martellato. Allegro
7. Sym No.5 'Triptikon': Andante Con Moto
8. Sym No.5 'Triptikon': Allegro Molto Vivace, Alla Breve
9. Paolo Und Francesca: Symphonic Fant After Dante's Inferno Canto V.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Klenau's Late-Romantic Art 27 Jan 2001
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Certain composers resist ready classification. Charles Martin Loeffler, for example, was born in Russia to French-speaking Belgian parents, but he emigrated to the United States in his youth and he usually ends up on lists of American composers. Paul von Klenau (1883-1946) is another such case: Danish-born but of Junker ancestry (hence the "von Klenau"), he lived from 1904-1940 in Germany and Austria, where he composed and conducted and maintained a fairly high profile among contemporary German-speaking composers. It gets even a bit more complicated, for Klenau's high-time coincided with the National Socialist regime. Klenau, who had studied with Schoenberg, divorced his Jewish wife and entered the musical Kulturkampf by attempting to pedigree an authentically German (i.e., "non-Jewish") type of twelve-tone music deriving supposedly from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde." Klenau's opera "Michael Kohlhaas" (1933) employed this "echter serialismus" and managed to gain repeated performances even into the war. Goebbels indeed commissioned two further operas from Klenau, who composed them according to his method, without compromise. (These were "Rembrandt van Rijn" [1937] and "Elisabeth von England" [1939].) When Hitler invaded Denmark, however, Klenau returned home, and took up music-making in his native country; he faded into obscurity after his death. A program of Klenau's orchestral music possess historical curiosity at the very least. Jan Wagner and the Odense Symphony Orchestra serve up Symphony No. 1 (1908), Symphony No. 5 "Triptikon" (1939), and the Symphonic Fantasy "Paolo und Francesca" (undated but probably from the 1920s). The large-scale Symphony No. 1 shows the influence of Wagner and Bruckner. Its five movements together require some thirty-seven minutes. The first of them, a brief "Introduction," quickly reaches its Brucknerian, fanfare-dominated climax; next comes a slow movement with the German designation (used frequently by Bruckner himself) of "Feierlich," or "Solemn." The slower Adagio, which follows, uses the plan of Bruckner's slow movements in the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. The Allegro Moderato constitutes a bucolic scherzo and the concluding Allegro non Troppo acknowledges the chorale-based Finale formula familiar from Bruckner's E-Flat Major and E-Minor symphonies. The modernist Klenau shows up in the twelve-minute Symphony No. 5, where the composer employs his terse, chromatic, quasi-serial vocabulary, without however suppressing an essentially Romantic outlook rooted in German nineteenth century music. Of the three works on the disc, the Symphonic Fantasy after Dante makes the least impression. The two symphonies exert some interest, especially the discursive, youthful First, with its obvious references. Many collectors, having become overly familiar with the standard repertory, like to explore the byways of late Romanticism. Klenau amounts to a considerable entry under the rubric. One might raise a few questions about his judgments; nut the man is dead and the art remains. Sample the music only if you cannot put aside the fact that he was a philo-Germanic Dane sympathetic, apparently, to National Socialist ideas about art, who also happened to be a Schoenberg-affiliated practitioner of twelve-note music. I suppose that if we can enjoy Orff, who ingratiated himself with the regime at least as much, then we can enjoy Klenau. (For remarks on Klenau, consult Erik Levi's "Music in the Third Reich" rather than the bland-by-omission notes that come with the CD.)
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