Hartmann: Des Simplicius Simplicissimus Jugend

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Hartmann
LABELS: BR Klassik
WORKS: Des Simplicius Simplicissimus Jugend
PERFORMER: Camilla Nylund, Christian Gerhaher, Will Hartmann, Michael Volle; Die Singphoniker; Munich Radio Orchestra/Ulf Schirmer
CATALOGUE NO: 403571900301

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Better known by its, well, simpler title of Simplicius Simplicissimus, Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s only major opera gets its fuller name here to distinguish the edition used for this recording, made live in Munich in 2005. This hybrid version is the work of the composers Wilfried Hiller and Robert Klimesch, who go back in part to Hartmann’s first conception of the opera.

Composed 1934-36, Simplicius was not premiered until 1948 (and revised in the 1950s), for reasons that are obvious. Hartmann was an anti-fascist who went into ‘inner emigration’ under the Nazis, and his subject matter here signified a rejection of Nazi dogma. The story, based on Grimmelshausen’s romance and set during the Thirty Years War, tells of the adventures of a carefree shepherd boy who becomes a visionary anti-hero.

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This edition sounds taut and pungent under Ulf Schirmer’s baton. Camilla Nylund sings gleamingly as the idealist Simplicius, and there are incisive yet pliable performances from the three excellent male soloists, Christian Gerhaher, Will Hartmann and Michael Volle. A half-hour ‘bonus’ track features discussion (in German) about the work. John Allison