ARIBERT REIMANN (b.1936): Lear.
Catalogue Number: 05K124
Label: Oehms Classics
Reference: OC 921
Description: Reimann's desolate opera, controversial when it first appeared on account of its bleakness and the uncompromisingly harsh musical language (aside from Zimmermann's Die Soldaten, so unsettling a musical language was, and remains, a rarity in the large scale opera house), is here revived in a 2008 production, recorded live. From the iron-grey apocalyptic backdrop of the massive string cluster that dominates the opening minutes of the opera onward, the torments of King Lear and the brutal pursuit of power by those around him are depicted in music of the utmost severity and unrelenting tension. This is not to suggest that the work lacks subtlety or even lyricism amid the declamatory outbursts, jagged, difficult intervals and sprechstimme; the principal roles require a high degree of expressive characterization and melodic dexterity in what are emphatically sung parts, seldom reduced to shouting. But the impenetrable cluster textures of the orchestra, the frantic percussion and stabbing fanfares suggest war and storm (and the actual storm scene is as devastating as one might expect) as the psychological ground against which the drama is played out to its devastating conclusion. 2 CDs. German libretto. Wolfgang Koch (baritone), Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet (soprano), Michael McCown (tenor), Magnus Baldvinsson (bass-baritone), Frankfurt Opera Choir, Frankfurt Museum Orchestra; Sebastian Weigle.