Henze: Gogo no Eiko

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Henze
LABELS: Orfeo
WORKS: Gogo no Eiko
PERFORMER: Mari Midorikawa, Jun Takahashi, Tsuyoshi Mihara, Teruhiko Komori, Zvi Emanuel-Marial, Kwang-Il Kim, Yasushi Hirano; RAI National SO/Gerd Albrecht
CATALOGUE NO: 794 0921

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 Based on Yukio Mishima’s Gogo no Eiko, a novella in which a teenager (Noboru) and his companions express their alienation through brutal, sickening violence, Henze’s opera sounds as if it should be hard work.

His first version, Das verratene Meer, was unsuccessful, a circumstance that usually prompts cuts from composers; but this re-working in Japanese is significantly longer. Yet this striking work is far from bleak.

In exploring the juxtaposition between the percussive cruelty of the gang and the enchanting, hopeful dreams of Noboru’s mother, Fusako, as she falls in love with Ryuji, Henze has created some of his most beautiful and compelling music.

This live recording captures the triumphant premiere of this new version at the 2006 Salzburg festival. Conductor Gerd Albrecht is a passionate advocate for the work (having persuaded Henze to make the additions), and the Japanese cast capture its claustrophobic world marvellously.

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The RAI Symphony Orchestra reveals the many colourful nuances of this often shimmering score with aplomb, and Orfeo is to be warmly congratulated for making this work available. A pity, though, that the set includes no libretto. Christopher Dingle