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Siegmund von Hausegger: Natursymphonie [Hybrid SACD] Hybrid SACD, SACD

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (28 April 2008)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Cpo
  • ASIN: B0013PS4AY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,001 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Natursymphonie: 1st movement, Gehalten un mit Dehnung - schnell
  2. Natursymphonie: 2nd movement, Langsam und gedehnt
  3. Natursymphonie: 3rd movement, Stürmisch bewegt
  4. Natursymphonie: 4th movement, Sehr breit, mit größter Kraft

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

The SACD hybrid disc on review here is, quite simply, one of the most, if not THE most superbly recorded I have heard. The orchestral amplitude and heft is amazing and the dynamic range is breathtakingly accommodated from huge orchestral and choral outburst with full organ to gentlest whisper of sound. The West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, is a fine orchestra and they get a recording that brings out all their magnificence.

But what of the music? Siegmund von Hausegger did not write all that much, the Nature Symphony being the largest orchestral work he completed (in 1911). Its language in high and late Romantic and lovers of Richard Strauss, Rachmaninov or Scriabin will find themselves at home in the sound world - though the music itself is does not have either the descriptive facility of Strauss or the melodic refulgence of Rachmaninov or Scriabin. This is "serious stuff", and it ends with a choral finale on words by Goethe about the relationship in nature between the Uncreated Creator and Mankind. The three movements can be characterised as "Demonic Struggle of gladness and darkness in Nature"; "Funeral Ode for the passing of all things" and, finally, "Apotheosis of the magnificence of creation and mankind's presence in it". These putative titles occur nowhere in the score or in the booklet notes (of which more later) but they are rather my interpretation of what I think the composer might have been trying to do.

Hausegger was a musical academic and orchestral conductor and he obviously had a serious turn of mind. You might characterise the music as something like "Mahler without the ecstasy...
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Many times, when a piece of music is released not a soul has heard of for around 40 years, the booklet says `there's real Mahlerian grandeur and influence' and all those times after listening to those CD's I couldn't hear any of it. So, maybe that are just marketing tricks: `let's write it's Mahlerian influenced, they'll buy that, cos Mahler sells'. Until I bought this release; in this case the CLAIM is TRUE.
Born in Graz, the son of the composer Friedrich von Hausegger, this composer had a handful of orchestral works to his name including three symphonic poems: Dionysische Phantasie, (1896), Barbarossa (1898/99) and Wieland der Schmied (1904)
The Natursinfonie could easily have been another pictorial nature symphony in the manner of Raff and Huber. No such thing. Here instead is a full-blown philosophical symphony written in grandeur. It is expressed in Mahlerian magnificence with such fastidious craftsmanship that it never topples over into bombast. You can forget about any Bucknerian involvement. This is a big work which gets to grips with the eternal verities and does so with the deep reach of a philosopher. The language is that of early 20th century romanticism. That first movement starts with the mastery of the opening of Mahler 3 and 6. The exuberant brass writing is redolent of the joyous uproar of Mahler's First Symphony. The whole thing is lavishly orchestrated and is treated to a simply glorious recording.
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A beautifully recorded CD. Unfortunately, to my ears, the music, whatever its other merits, is devoid of one memorable tune. Like many another Late Romantic composer, (say Fibich, Foerster, Pfitzner, Suk, Schmidt, Marx etc.), on one of their off days, von Hausegger includes everything except a melody. Maybe it's just me, but I was hoping to be, and certainly wasn't, swept away on a post-Mahlerian tide of emotion.
"Too many notes".
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An undiscovered great work: well played and well recorded. Not all that 'tuneful' (in the Rachmaninov sense), but some magical moments nonetheless.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8bda7ba4) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bcb078c) out of 5 stars Noted Bruckner conductor sounding more like Mahler- 9 May 2008
By L.T.N - Published on Amazon.com
With huge, supplemented orchestral forces, including a choral army for the fourth movement finale, and the juxtaposition of what sound like marching band tunes with hymn-like string portions, this symphony comes as close to being Mahler's 11th since Hans Rott's lone symphony (except Rott preceded his fellow-student Mahler, and Mahler "borrowed" freely from Rott's work for some of his own symphonies). But while Hausegger's mammoth creation is enjoyable and worthy of an occasional performance by our major orchestras, its not of the caliber of Mahler, and as much as I like it, I would not say its a neglected masterpiece. Like Rott, the orchestration can be thick and congested, but also like Rott there's no lack of melodic ideas, although they don't always go someplace. The brass writing in the opening of the first movement and the scherzo, to my ears, had elements of Mahler's 7th & 9th. I thought the choral finale was uninspiring and anti-climactic.

In the last decade or so, I have been grateful to sample some of the other "undiscovered" romantic composers of the early to mid 20th century. If I place the highest praise on Richard Wetz and Felix Weingartner for their symphonies (which I will return to) and lukewarm applause for those of Halm, Tiessen and Hessenberg (which I won't), I'd have to place this Nature Symphony of Hausegger somewhere in between. I'll definitely listen to it again, and with pleasure. But I don't think its as good as the first two symphonies of Wetz, or the second of Weingartner. When Mahler famously told Sibelius that the symphony should contain the whole world, he may not have realized there was someone following in his footsteps. Give it a try, just expect more of Mahler's all-encompassing attempt at aural pantheism rather than Bruckner's piety.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c9ab72c) out of 5 stars Awesome piece... but the caveat is not musical 4 Oct. 2008
By Laszlo - Published on Amazon.com
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By now, we all know that there are hardly any undiscovered masterpieces in classical music. But CPO should be congratulated for unearthing obscure orchestral repertoire in excellent performances and superb sound. The recording here is extaordinary, everything is revealed with quite a punch. So, if you like a complex canvas of instrumental and orchestral sound, you will love this; just don't expect the next 'mahlerian' masterpiece, as much as this sounds like it.

My caveat is not musical at all. It lies on the liner notes. CPO has been improving its production values to achieve a status of one-of-my-favorite labels. But, sometimes, they hire this pseudo-philosophers that, in true elitist germanic fashion, ramble on meaning and lose perspective of the true value of liner-notes. The writer seems to spend more time on von Hausseger's father(!) than on the composer himself. Little is told about the piece, its historical context or time of composition. Simply ridiculous.

I hope CPO reads this. All their magnificent work is obscured by writings that defy purpose, and translations that, sometimes, verge on the laughable. Otherwise, keep up the good work, because I'll keep on buying.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bcb4324) out of 5 stars Something New and Wonderful-- And it doesn't sound like Mahler! 17 July 2010
By Richard O. Faulk - Published on Amazon.com
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This is a refreshingly new piece for those who enjoy "late Romantic Period" orchestral music -- but please, let's stop the comparisons to Mahler. Hausegger is a true Romanticist, an extraordinary orchestrator, truly sensitive to delicate and massive forces, and thankfully unintimidated by the breakaway insanity of the serial movement. He's not a precursor to anything. He's simply true to himself as he pursues a tradition that he -- as well as many of us -- believe has not been exhausted.

That said, Hausegger avoids the maddening banalities that plague Mahler's music. We forgive Mahler for them, for the exasperating lack of sophistication, for those common and derivative themes that make one push the fast-forward button. Mahler certainly has some divine moments, sometimes even divine quarter hours, but wading through the ungraceful periods relegates his symphonies to the afficionado bin. So let's stop using Mahler as a standard against which all other late Romanticists must be measured. Such comparisons deprive us objectivity and too often tempt us to deem his contemporaries "derivative" before we give them an open ear.

Hausegger's experience as a conductor -- he conducted some very famous Bruckner performances in particular -- shows in his mastery of balance and diversity of the ensemble. It also allows him to build very complex sonic structures that do not overpower, obscure or overwhelm thematatic ideas and aural perceptions.

The subtle development of the "nature" theme throughout this piece rewards repeat listening, especially to those sensitive to orchestral color and tonal variety. It's a well-constructed motive that provides wide opportunites for subtle variations, and Hausegger exploits them in excellent symphonic style.

Yes, to some extent, the symphony is programatic -- especially in the incredble second movement that depicts the flight of the dead hosts -- but programs aren't always trite. Even without Hausegger's suggestions, we'd be left amazed and overwhelmed by the the devastating crescendo,the spectacular orchestral power, and the sheer emotional power of the sonic experience. After hearing the movement, surely some would ask "What in the world was he thinking when he wrote that?" And Hausegger's explanation is, under the circumstances, as satisfying as it gets.

The choral finale sets a Goethe poem that is ultimately focused on the infinite -- indeed, a walk, step by massive step, through it. The choral writing is sometimes dense, but the singing is remarkable. Only in the finale does one wish for a bit more harmonic adventure -- but perhaps there is an artistic reason underlying the relative simplicity of the final resolution. Perhaps Hausegger, consciously or subconsciously, is telling us that the power of tonality, however stretched, cannot be extinguished. Perhaps his message, a message that seeks integration and development of styles, rather than disintegration and disillusionment, more truly invokes the eternally positive human response to beauty, symetry, and consonance. If so, Hausegger's view of infinity is one we should all aspire to share.

I strongly recommend this recording. And I hope to hear more of Hausegger's music! It deserves greater exposure.
17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bcb0a68) out of 5 stars "Sounds of Nature" 8 Mar. 2009
By Mr John Haueisen - Published on Amazon.com
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Some have said that Siegmund von Hausegger's Natursymphonie resembles the music of Gustav Mahler. True, Hausegger's life (1872-1948) does overlap the entire composing life of Mahler, but at least to me his music sounds far less complete nor is it as evocative of Nature as is Mahler's music.

I'm not in disagreement with the other reviews of this piece--they make some excellent points--especially the courageous comment about the pseudo-intellectual tone of the program notes, and the fine sound quality of this recording. I really wish you could see the program notes for the outrageous psychobabble they make about this piece--might be worth seeing, just to see those program notes.

I'm just trying to advise you that if you're expecting the kind of impressions of Nature that Mahler provides, you will not likely find them here.

The major problem is that Hausegger does not see his themes through the way that Mahler does. They sound nice individually, but there is no continuity; no variations on the themes he introduces. Additionally, (to me, at least) they do not sound like the "sounds of Nature" that are heard so often in Maher's music. But just because it's not like Mahler's Nature, doesn't mean to ignore it. Give it a try--you may well notice things I have missed.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8bcb0be8) out of 5 stars Grandly scored music in search of a memorable theme 9 Jun. 2011
By dv_forever - Published on Amazon.com
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The record label CPO has specialized in really out of the way repertoire and if it weren't for cottage labels like these, many of the lesser known composers would never see the light of day outside of some musical encyclopedia. Siegmund von Hausegger is another one of the hundreds of composers more or less lost to time. Time is not kind to the great majority of creative output in the arts.

Not that this Natursymphonie deserves more a few listens and only to folks who enjoy the dying years of late-romanticism. A gigantic orchestra is used to decorate material that is not very rich in content. I've tried to find something in this piece over the couple of years I've owned it but every time I return to it, my initial impressions are reinforced. What are those impressions? Well, let's say a mix of many elements. If you had Bruckner without the profundity, Richard Strauss without the thrills and energy, and Mahler without the pathos or edge, then perhaps you'd have something resembling this piece by Hausegger. I don't mean to be harsh but not every composer is profound and most obscure music remains so for a reason.

The performers here are highly dedicated. The sound quality is outstanding. The liner notes are long, pompous and tedious in the CPO tradition. The most arresting part of this symphony is perhaps it's finale. After some long instrumental movements full of nature painting mixed with Germanic symphonic development, we arrive to the conclusion. Hausegger chose to follow the Beethoven-Liszt-Mahler model in opting for a choral finale. Musically speaking, it's perhaps the least inspired part of the Natursymphonie and at the same time it's a joy to hear a chorus break up the monotony of the preceding instrumental movements. Altogether, not a bad find for listeners who just enjoy a grand, opulent orchestra moving across the landscape. But don't expect anything resembling great music or you'll be sorely disappointed. I would point people towards the Hans Rott symphony, the early Szymanowski symphonies and the first three Scriabin symphonies as much more interesting. You could also give Franz Schmidt a shot. All are more rewarding.
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