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COMPOSERS: Hausegger
ALBUM TITLE: Hausegger
WORKS: Natursymphonie
PERFORMER: WDR Radio Choir, Cologne; WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne/Ari Rasilainen
CATALOGUE NO: 777 337-2


If Siegmund von Hausegger (1872-1948) is remembered at all now it’s probably for his achievements as a conductor and in particular for being the first interpreter to perform and record the original version of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony with the Munich Philharmonic in the 1930s. Yet judging by this spellbinding release, Hausegger was no mean composer either. Of his five orchestral works, the Natursymphonie completed in 1911 is by far the most ambitious. It’s an epic three-movement post-Wagnerian symphony conceived on the grandest scale, calling for a huge orchestra and culminating in a stirring choral finale setting a text by Goethe that praises the infinite wonder of creativity. Hausegger marshals these forces with tremendous mastery, achieving an almost elemental power with emotionally intense and highly chromatic orchestral climaxes. Especially impressive are the brooding central funeral march and the ecstatic closing pages which are somewhat reminiscent of the Finale of Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. Anyone with a penchant for Austro-German late romanticism at its most extravagant will want to hear this disc. Fortunately Ari Rasilainen and his Cologne forces are totally committed to the cause, and the recording boasts suitably spectacular sound. Erik Levi