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Hans Werner Henze regarded himself as an outsider in terms of politics, sexuality and race. Upon fleeing Germany in the early fifties, he arrived in Italy where he would remain for the rest of his life – the Teutonic tempered by the Neapolitan sun and indeed the Italian language.
He quickly solidified his position as the preeminent German symphonic composer this side of Hindemith although he was seen as conservatively tuneful by the likes of Boulez and Stockhausen. It was during this period that Deutsche Gramophon recorded much of his work commencing with the Neapolitan Songs written for the great Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Such fine recordings form the bulk of this important 16CD set.
DFD also features in excerpts from the opera Elegy for Young Lovers and the pro-‘Red’ cantata Der Floss der Medusa (the straw that broke the German middle class back when a red flag was unfurled at the premiere).
Highlights include the sublime works commissioned by Paul Sacher, the double concerto for harp and oboe featuring the Holligers and the magical Fantasia for strings (1966) – a movement of which was used over the closing credits to The Exorcist.
Later works are included as well as the delightful Undine – the approachable ballet written for Ashton and Fonteyn. These performances have aged very well indeed making this an ideal way to discover HWH.