Album info



Label: ECM New Series

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Vocal

Artist: Christian Gerhaher, Philharmonia Zürich & Heinz Holliger

Composer: Heinz Holliger (1939-)

Album including Album cover

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  • Heinz Holliger (b. 1932): Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern):
  • 1Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Einklang01:45
  • 2Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Erstes Blatt03:04
  • 3Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Zweites Blatt03:38
  • 4Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Drittes Blatt03:59
  • 5Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Viertes Blatt03:11
  • 6Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Fünftes Blatt03:39
  • 7Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Sechstes Blatt04:34
  • 8Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Siebtes Blatt02:41
  • 9Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Achtes Blatt07:03
  • 10Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Neuntes Blatt04:55
  • 11Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Zehntes Blatt03:28
  • 12Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Elftes Blatt08:06
  • 13Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Zwölftes Blatt03:57
  • 14Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Dreizehntes Blatt04:21
  • 15Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Vierzehntes Blatt08:45
  • 16Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Fünfzehntes Blatt04:49
  • 17Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Sechzehntes Blatt05:51
  • 18Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Siebzehntes Blatt04:42
  • 19Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Achzehntes Blatt02:59
  • 20Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Neunzehntes Blatt03:40
  • 21Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Zwanzigstes Blatt03:12
  • 22Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Einundzwanzigstes Blatt01:24
  • 23Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Zweiundzwanzigstes Blatt03:07
  • 24Holliger: Lunea (Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern): Dreiundzwanzigstes Blatt05:08
  • Total Runtime01:41:58

Info for Heinz Holliger: Lunea

Heinz Holliger’s “dream opera” Lunea which was premiered, to great acclaim, at Opernhaus Zurich, interweaves strands from the life and mind of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch (1802-1850), the Hungarian-born Austrian poet who wrote under the name Nikolaus Lenau. Lenau’s last, fragmentary writings have fired Holliger’s imagination and led to the creation of an intricately inventive work with a marvellously evocative lead role for baritone Christian Gerhaher. Neue Zürcher Zeitung: “Here Gerhaher can display his full sensitivity in dealing with the finest nuances of language and bring to bear his almost unlimited spectrum of tonal-dynamic gradations in the intonation. The poet Lenau speaks most directly from the sounds and notes...” The double album, in slipcase, is accompanied by an an extensive 120 page German-English booklet with the full libretto by Händl Klaus and synopses of each of the opera’s 23 scenes, as well as a liner essay by Roman Brotbeck, a performer’s note by Christian Gerhaher, score fragments, performance photography, and more.

An impressive psychogram of the poet Nikolaus Lenau — and a tailor-made role for the baritone Christian Gerhaher. Here he can display his full sensitivity in dealing with the finest nuances of language and bring to bear his almost unlimited spectrum of tonal-dynamic gradations in the intonation. The composer on the podium is the best advocate of his originally orchestrated music, combining intimate knowledge of the score with the emotional engagement of the performing musician. Thus the poet Lenau speaks most directly from the sounds and notes... Christian Wildhagen, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Heinz Holliger’s “dream opera” Lunea (2017), subtitled Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern [Lenau scenes in 23 leaves from a life], with libretto by Händl Klaus, is the Swiss composer’s most complex piece of music theatre to date. It is also a work that continues the sequence of biographical ‘portraits’ delineated in Holliger’s remarkable recordings for ECM New Series.

As Roman Brotbeck points out in an insightful liner essay, Holliger’s focus in his compositions has often been on the work and thought of artistic outsiders. It is the marginal figures who most fascinate him, the ones who followed their creative visions to the brink of madness. He seeks to give voice to their suffering, with music functioning as “a form of solace”. This, broadly, is the impulse that links such distinctive work as the Scardanelli-Zyklus on the late poetry of Friedrich Hölderlin, the opera Schneewittchen, after Robert Walser, the Violin Concerto as a tribute to painter Louis Soutter, and the chamber music work Romancendres, a sorrowful protest against Clara Schumann’s burning of her husband’s cello romances. Now comes Lunea.

The opera – which was premiered at Opernhaus Zurich in March 2018 - interweaves strands from the life and mind of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau (1802-1850), the Hungarian-born Austrian poet who wrote under the name Nikolaus Lenau. Lenau spent some of the last years of his life in an asylum near Stuttgart where he wrote fragmentary texts of almost surrealistic vividness - describing himself, for instance as “an echo nailed to the rock,” and the moon as “a luminous floating tomb.”

Holliger first set some of these inspirations in a song cycle for baritone and piano he called Lunea – 23 sentences by Nikolaus Lenau, which was premiered, with Christian Gerhaher as singer, in 2013. Subsequently, Holliger reworked the Lunea settings into his opera, now integrated, as he put it, “like chorales in a Bach Passion.” Lenau’s words become part of a larger text, shaped by Austrian writer Händl Klaus. In the opera, Gerhaher as Lenau holds centre stage – but other important figures from his life drift into view. These voices each embody several characters, with soprano Juliane Banse portraying both Sophie von Löwenthal, the love of Lenau’s life, and Therese Niembsch, the poet’s mother. Second baritone Ivan Ludlow’s roles include Anton Xaver Schurz, Lenau’s brother-in-law and his first biographer, responsible for preserving many of his writings. Soprano Sarah Maria Sun appears as both Marie Behrends, Lenau’s fiancée, and as famed opera singer Karoline Unger. Finally, mezzo soprano Annette Schönmüller sings the parts of Lenau’s sister Therese, his friend Emilie Reinbeck, and his lover Bertha Hauer.

“Everything happens as if in a dream,” writes Roman Brotbeck. Discontinuous, following no immediately logical plot. “Yet nothing is blurred; everything is as clear as glass and laid out by Holliger with maximum lucidity.” The 23 ‘leaves’ of the opera unfold associatively, and move backwards and forwards through time. The opera opens in the insane asylum in Döbling. Händl Klaus: “We are inside Lenau’s head – here tabula rasa reigns, in the midst of life, yet full of life; the ground crumbles beneath his feet as he becomes aware of his own downfall.”

Christian Gerhaher conveys the turbulence of Lenau’s mind through the changing emotional landscape of the opera. “The demands of the vocal parts are a little challenging,” Gerhaher allows in a performer’s note, emphasizing that Holliger’s challenges are purposeful: “The work begins to glow, to embody an empathy that seeks to understand and recreate the most minimal stirrings of the suffering poet.”

From his side, Heinz Holliger has noted: “I could not have written the opera without Christian Gerhaher. I'm sure of that. He's someone very close to me and I was sure he had the sensibility to capture with utmost feeling the unconventional thinking inherent in my opera.”

Lunea marks Gerhaher’s second appearance on ECM New Series. He was previously heard, in 2009, alongside the Rosamunde Quartet on a recording of Othmar Schoeck’s Notturno, a composition also based upon texts by Nikolaus Lenau.

Juliane Banse’s previous ECM appearances include the title role in Heinz Holliger’s Schneewittchen, as well as recordings of Kurtág’s Kafka-Fragmente (with András Keller), Songs of Debussy and Mozart (with András Schiff), Tief in der Nacht (songs of Alban Berg and Karl Amadeus Hartmann, with Aleksandar Mazdar), and Frank Martin’s Maria-Triptychon (with Christoph Poppen and the German Radio Philharmonic).

The range of Heinz Holliger’s artistic activity – as composer and conductor as well as soloist and chamber musician – has been documented on numerous ECM albums. Recent recordings have included Zwiegrespräche, with expressive minitaures by Holliger and his contemporary and friend György Kurtág, as well as readings of French poet Philippe Jaccottet.

Christian Gerhaher, baritone
Juliane Banse, soprano
Ivan Ludlow, baritone
Sarah Maria Sun, soprano
Annette Schönmüller, soprano
Philharmonia Zürich
Basler Madrigalisten
Heinz Holliger, conductor

Christian Gerhaher
During his studies with Paul Kuën and Raimund Grumbach, Christian Gerhaher attended the Opera School at the Munich Hochschule für Musik and, together with Gerold Huber, studied lied interpretation with Friedemann Berger. While completing his medical studies Christian Gerhaher perfected his vocal training in master-classes given by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Inge Borkh. Currently Christian Gerhaher himself teaches occasionally at the Munich Academy of Music and Theatre and at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Together with his regular piano partner Gerold Huber, he has dedicated himself to the interpretation of Lieder for 30 years now - in concerts and recordings - and has been awarded important prizes for many years. The Lied Duo is at home on the stages of the international Lied centres: in the New York Halls, the Concertgebouw and Muziekgebouw Amsterdam, the Cologne and Berlin Philharmonics, the Paris Cité de la musique, the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, the Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid and especially in London's Wigmore Hall. The duo also performs regularly at important festivals.

Collaborations with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Harding, Herbert Blomstedt, Bernard Haitink, Christian Thielemann, Kirill Petrenko, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Pierre Boulez, Daniel Barenboim, Andris Nelsons, Kent Nagano and Mariss Jansons have taken him to the most important concert halls of the world. Among the orchestras with which Christian Gerhaher works most frequently are the London Symphony Orchestra, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra and especially the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he was the first singer to become Artist in Residence, as well as the Radio Symphony Orchestras of the Swedish and especially the Bavarian Radio.

The beginning of the 20/21 season, like the end of last season, is marked by Corona. Long planned opera productions such as Wozzeck in Aix (July 20 with Simon Rattle/Simon McBurney) as well as concerts and recital tours could not take place, other dates arise at short notice, often only streamed, e.g. the Monday concerts of the Bavarian State Opera, or in front of a small audience, as at the MDR Musiksommer or the Festival d'Aix. A performance of Othmar Schoeck's Elegy with the Basel Chamber Orchestra conducted by Heinz Holliger is scheduled to reopen the Basel Casino in August 20. Lieder recitals in Elmau, London's Wigmore Hall and the Bavarian State Opera herald the start of the season in September, with Franz Schubert and Alban Berg on the programme. Appointments with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (in October Berlioz Nuits d`été with Stéphane Denève, in February Mahlers Kindertotenlieder with Robin Ticciati), the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra (in January 21 Mahlers Wunderhornlieder with Daniel Harding, of the Staatskapelle Weimar (in April 21 Alphons Diepenbrock's Im großen Schweigen mit Peter Gülke), Lieder recitals with Schubert's Schwanengesang (Helsinki, Stockholm, London, Paris in January 21 and in March 21 to Hong Kong and Tokyo) are on the calendar.

Christian Gerhaher is a sought-after performer, not only in the song and concert field, but also on the opera stage. He has been awarded the "Laurence Olivier Award" and the theatre prize "Der Faust". His roles include Eisenstein (Die Fledermaus), Posa (Don Carlo), Amfortas (Parsifal under Kirill Petrenko), Lenau (Lunea Holliger, premiere 2018), Figaro and Conte (Le nozze di Figaro) as well as the title roles in Don Giovanni, in Debussy's Pelléas and Mélisande (CD with LSO Live, Sir Simon Rattle) and in Henze's Der Prinz von Homburg. The key role of Wolfram in Richard Wagner's Tannhäuser was and remains a constant in his calendar at the houses of Berlin, Vienna, London and Munich. Performances at La Scala in Milan in the spring of 2020 have unfortunately been cancelled. A milestone in Christian Gerhaher's opera career was his debut as Wozzeck in September 2015 in Andreas Homoki's celebrated production at the Zurich Opera House (DVD for Accentus; Gramophone Award 2017). Also in Zurich in November 2020, Christian Gerhaher's role debut as Simon Boccanegra (Fabio Luisi/Andreas Homoki) can be experienced. At his home base, the Bavarian State Opera, the programme includes the revival of Tannhäuser and, in May 21, the new production of Aribert Reimann's Lear (Jukka Pekka Saraste/Christoph Marthaler).

As an exclusive partner Christian Gerhaher releases his CDs with Sony Music. Together with his pianist Gerold Huber, the cycles of Schubert, Schumann and Mahler are available here. Together with BR Klassik and the Heidelberger Liedzentrum, Sony Classical is currently making a large-scale recording of all songs by Robert Schumann. In November 2018 the first album "Frage" was released, for which Christian Gerhaher was awarded both the Gramophone Award and the Opus Klassik as Singer of the Year. After the album "Myrthen", released in November 2019, the release of the complete recording is planned for spring 2021.

Heinz Holliger
was born in 1939 in Langenthal in the Canton of Bern. He studied oboe (with Émile Cassagnaud and Pierre Pierlot), piano (with Sava Savoff and Yvonne Lefébure), and composition (with Sándor Veress and Pierre Boulez) in Bern, Paris, and Basel. His international career as an oboist, which has taken him to the major music centers all over the world, began in 1959, when he won first prize at the International Music Competition in Geneva; he additionally won the ARD Music Competition in Munich in 1961 – the same year in which he made his debut at the Internationale Musikfestwochen Luzern, now known as LUCERNE FESTIVAL. Holliger has expanded the technical capacities of his instrument and remains a strong supporter of contemporary music as well as of lesser-known works. Many composers, including Henze, Ligeti, and Lutosławski, have dedicated new scores to him. In 1977 Holliger took up his career as a conductor, which soon brought him to the most renowned orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and the Philharmonia Orchestra. He has also enjoyed a longterm partnership with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. A composer in his own right, Heinz Holliger was featured in 1998 as composer-in-residence at the IMF Luzern. His opera Schneewittchen premiered in Zurich in 2002, where his latest stage work, Lunea, which is based on scenes from Nikolaus Lenau, was produced in the spring of 2018. Holliger has received numerous awards, including the Sonning Music Prize (1987), the Frankfurt Music Prize (1988), the Siemens Music Prize (1991), the Premio Abbiati of the Biennale di Venezia (1995), the Zurich Festival Prize (2007), and, most recently, the Robert Schumann Prize (2017). He has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2016.

This album contains no booklet.

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