Album review: Hans Werner, Henze Symphonies 1 & 6 (Wergo)


Hans Werner Henze's first symphony was written in 1946, when he was 20. Two years later, despite critical acclaim, its composer already regarded it as “ill-conceived”, and by the 1960s had completely reworked it for the version featured here. Its shadowy contrasts are akin to faint blue skies obscured by clouds. His sixth symphony premiered in Cuba in 1969, and includes melodic quotes from Cuban, Vietnamese and Greek liberation songs. It is a spikier and more cacophonous affair, with a rock-strewn topography of brass, woodwind and percussion, slashed by shrill string glissandi. It's a fascinating relic of its era, with electric guitar, banjo and organ added to the two chamber orchestras whose lines and motifs criss-cross the piece confusingly.

Download: 1. Sinfonie; Sinfonia N.6