Welcome to Hyperion Records, an independent British classical label devoted to presenting high-quality recordings of music of all styles and from all periods from the twelfth century to the twenty-first.
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1. Der Held (The Hero)
2. Des Helden Widersacher (The Hero’s Adversaries)
3. Des Helden Gefährtin (The Hero’s Companion)
4. Des Helden Walstatt (The Hero at Battle)
5. Des Helden Friedenswerke (The Hero’s Works of Peace)
6. Des Helden Weltflucht und Vollendung (The Hero’s Retirement from this World and Consummation)
No formal information is forthcoming from the composer’s score, but, in the most general fashion, Ein Heldenleben might be thought of as an extended and expanded version of a symphonic first movement. Der Held 2 is all about our hero—a character study. He strides forth, horns and cellos soaring, the orchestra, thrusting and surging, yet noble and dignified. The ignoble critics are up for a bashing in Des Helden Widersacher 3 (beg). Caviling clarinets, squawking oboes, petty flutes and grumbling low brass make for a rather personal attack on Strauss’s perceived enemies. The hero rises above all of this clamour, eventually silencing their spiteful attacks. Des Helden Gefährtin 3 (end) & 4 is a portrait of Strauss’s wife, the singer Pauline de Ahna, represented by the solo violin in a series of long cadenzas. When challenged about some of the less than flattering sounding moments of the portrait Strauss commented, ‘It’s my wife I wanted to show. She is very complex, very feminine, a little perverse, a little coquettish … at every minute different from how she had been the moment before.’ Nonetheless, it is soon clear that the hero is smitten by her. The hero is soon bidden by offstage trumpets to leave his love-bed and prepare for battle. Des Helden Walstatt 5 opens with brutal, militaristic drums and a trumpet emerges as the harbinger of the fight to come. The battle scene is an extended development section where the hero repels attack after attack until his theme emerges triumphant. Des Helden Friedenswerke 6 enters peacefully via a pair of lugubrious tubas but soon broadens out into a calm reverie where the hero looks back on his good works. Strauss is considering his own achievements here by interweaving quotations from all of his previous tone poems (except Aus Italien) throughout the symphonic texture. Notable here is his generous use of material from his beloved Guntram. Des Helden Weltflucht und Vollendung 7 is effectively the coda to the piece, where previous works appear again in the counterpoint and battles past recalled with a return of the critics opening motif. The calming influence of the solo violin re-appears to sooth these nightmares and return the world to rights. A solemn last variant of the opening hero theme in the full brass builds a final fanfare to a life fulfilled.
from notes by M Ross © 2008
|Strauss (R): Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche & Ein Heldenleben|
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche is considered to be one of Strauss’s most witty, entertaining and successful tone poems whereas Ein Heldenleben heralds the composer’s more mature period in this genre.» More