LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Choral Fantasy
PERFORMER: Diana Damrau (soprano), Jörg Dürmüller (tenor), Georg Zeppenfeld (bass), Paul Komen (fortepiano); Kölner Kantorei, WDR Capella Coloniensis/Bruno Weil
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77535 2
Just imagine the slow movement of Beethoven’s Archduke Trio set to the words, ‘Heil, heil, Beethoven, heil!’ Well, it’s been done, and by none other than Franz Liszt. His Cantata for the Inauguration of the Beethoven Monument in Bonn in 1845 is very much an early, occasional piece, and one which you’d want to hear, I suspect, only occasionally. But its four movements are given robust advocacy here by Bruno Weil and his Cologne forces as they ask their high-flown verbal and musical rhetorical questions in the course of reflecting on the eternity of Art in the transience of history, and on Genius as the bridge between man and God.
In a new reconstruction by Günther Massenheil of a long-lost score, this world premiere recording makes an irresistible companion piece for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy. For Beethoven, of course, the harmony of Art was a source of grace, and a reflection of the harmony to which mankind must aspire on earth. This performance, also from last October’s Beethoven Festival in Bonn, has Paul Komen as a sensitive fortepiano soloist in a lean, rhythmically rigorous performance. But neither he, nor the choral singers and soloists, can top the only other recording using comparably scaled forces: that of John Eliot Gardiner’s ORR with the Monteverdi Choir and the splendid Robert Levin, who offers two improvisatory introductions by way of bonus. Hilary Finch