Nietzsche: Collected Works

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COMPOSERS: Nietzsche
LABELS: Concordia
WORKS: Collected Works
PERFORMER: Lauretta Altman, Wolfgang Bottenberg (piano), Valerie Kinslow (soprano), Sven Meier (violin), Erik Oland (baritone); Orpheus Singers/Peter Schubert
Towards the end of his life, Nietzsche fondly hoped that his music would clear up any misunderstandings arising from what he wrote, and even declared that in his Hymn of Life ‘the affect [or emotional implications] of my philosophy finds its expression’.


This documentary recording of 43 of Nietzsche’s compositions, masterminded by Wolfgang Bottenberg at Concordia University, Montreal, presents the works in chronological order as a companion to the scores published in Der musikalische Nachlass. As such, the project takes a different approach (and provides far inferior performances) to the Newport disc reviewed here in February.

An endearing Allegro for piano, written when Nietzsche was 13, reveals the heavy thumbprints made by Bach and Beethoven on a clearly impressionable psyche; and an interminable, austere choral Miserere composed three years later could, I suspect, make the charts today given a little canny marketing. Nietzsche’s own poetry inspired in him three Brahmsian song settings: other curiosities include a strange Monodie à deux for piano duet and an extraordinary declaimed melodrama Das zerbrochene Ringlein.


To the innocent ear, much of this would simply seem the work of a moderately talented and ardent amateur; and the performances match. Those with ears to hear will doubtless find much to substantiate their own understanding of Nietzsche; but it seems perverse that such an earnest undertaking should be presented with only sketchy notes and no texts. Hilary Finch