LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Gold
WORKS: Minette: Canti e rimpianti amorosi; Memorias de El Cimarrón; Three Fairy-Tale Pictures from Pollicino
PERFORMER: Ensemble Villa Musica
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 304 0881-2
These three works for two guitars by Hans Werner Henze have their origin in the composer’s extensive output for the theatre. Minette: Canti e rimpianti amorosi is an offshoot of Henze’s opera buffa The English Cat, in which the chief protagonist is the cat Minette, who comes up from the country to London to get married, and after a series of misadventures ends up being drowned in the Thames in a sack. Rather a tragic scenario, even cat haters would confess, which draws from Henze music of affecting and elegiac gentleness, touchingly conveyed by the excellent duo Jürgen Ruck and Elena Càsoli.
Memorias de El Cimarrón is a revisiting of Henze’s El Cimarrón from 1970, a piece inspired by the life story of a former Negro slave in Cuba and written in the throes of enthusiasm for the Cuban revolution. Improvised sections intersperse the scored music, which requires the guitarists to whistle and hum as well as tap and beat their instruments. Again Ruck and Càsoli excel in an arresting mix of tight, polemical structures and parodies of the indigenous habanera and song forms.
They close with arrangements from Henze’s children’s opera Pollicino, charmingly concluding an intriguing disc. Christopher Wood