Hermann Goetz's lifespan was no longer than Mozart's, and though much admired by contemporaries, as a tragic genius his music became almost forgotten, and the domain of but a few connoisseurs such as Gustav Mahler. Goetz's style remained closer to schumann and Mendelssohn, preferring lyricism and clarity to the more radical approaches of Liszt and Wagner. The virtuoso First Piano Concerto was a student work, its lovely central adagio sharing a use of colorful wind parts with the freshly optimistic Second Piano Concerto composed six years later.
Pedro Iturralde is one of the most admired Spanish composer-performers of the last half-century. An important innovator in the fusion of jazz and flamenco styles, he has also enriched his music with folk and classical idioms. One of his best-loved pieces is the Hungarian Dance, for two saxophones, whilst Suite Helénica blends jazz idioms with southern Greek folklore. Zorongo Gitano is a classic example of his fusion style, full of alluring harmonies and rhythms. The composer’s definitive versions of these works were made especially for this recording.
Ambrosian chant (also known as Milanese chant) is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Ambrosian rite of the Roman Catholic Church, related to but distinct from Gregorian chant. It is primarily associated with the Archdiocese of Milan, and named after St. Ambrose much as Gregorian chant is named after Gregory the Great. It is the only surviving plainchant tradition besides the Gregorian to maintain the official sanction of the Roman Catholic Church.
Filmed live in Baden-Baden by the veteran director Brian Large, Renée Fleming makes her debut in the role of Ariadne together with fellow key Strauss interpreters Sophie Koch and Christian Thielemann, following on from their Rosenkavalier triumph. Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden, the orchestra to whom Strauss dedicated his Alpine Symphony and which premiered Feuersnot, Salome, Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne. Fleming's voice might have been made for Ariadne and she achieved a great personal triumph in this production: “The chief glory of the evening was hearing Renée Fleming, the Straussian soprano par excellence, making her role debut as Ariadne… As the possessor of what is, possibly, the most beautiful soprano voice in the world, she put her vocal treasures in the service of an empathic, nuanced interpretation of the role. From the creamy top, through a rich, warm middle, to the bewitching, darker colours of her lower register, Fleming poured her magnificent sound into Strauss’s enchanting melodic arcs, animating the sadness, vulnerability, and desire of the bereft princess…” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“This is straight and unfussy in its staging, and the video production by Brian Large could not be more expert and unobtrusive (save for one or two close-ups of Jessye Norman's larynx). Tatiana Troyanos's Composer is quite superb, and neither Battle nor Norman can be faulted vocally” (Penguin Guide)