Lisa Maria Schachtschneider – Feminae, the female in music

The classical music industry is a male domain. Although there is now a lively discussion, especially in social media, about topics such as the gender pay gap, better compatibility of family and career choices for women, gender-neutral language and women networking, the classical music business is far from treating women composers and other groups equally. In 2016, a study by G. Schulz, C. Ries, and O. Zimmermann entitled “Women in Culture and Media” and sponsored by the German Cultural Council, concluded that the proportion of women among freelance composers and university faculty is low, despite the high proportion of women studying composition. Why are there so few women composers? “This question has been shamefully neglected. One must ask why thousands upon thousands of women composers are virtually unknown, because that is the crux of the matter,” wrote Susanne Wosnitzka, a German musicologist and expert on women composers, on her twitter account. There reasons for this are obvious: those responsible for the programming at festivals, radio stations and orchestras hardly ever include more than one or two works by women in their regular programmes every season for fear of scaring away audiences with unknown names. In music history textbooks, women only appear at the margins and it is difficult to find unknown female composers in the publishers’ archives and on the internet due to the lack of user-friendly structures. Women will have achieved equality in the music world only when it has become commonplace to see a female conductor step onto the podium, when works by female composers have been established on an equal footing in the concert business, and when it is not unusual for the brass section of an orchestra to largely consist of women.

Mysteries – Sabine Weyer

It is surprising that the works gathered here, written almost a century apart (1912-1920 for Miaskovsky's Sonatas and 2007-2011 for those by Nicolas Bacri), can share the same hyper-expressiveness, with dark, tortured, panting climates, others of a lost lyricism or a poignant melancholy. Indeed, usually programs juxtaposing romantic and contemporary composers play on the shock of a frank opposition, a radical heterogeneity, a totally different concept of music, but not when it comes to Nicolas Bacri. How can we understand this spatial-temporal hiatus that allows this proximity, this apparent continuity between these two creators, despite their historical and cultural distance? Bacri's third Sonata, here in its world premiere recording, is inspired by Miaskovsky's third Sonata and dedicated to his memory. They both share the same taste for highly emotional music, as if there was a certain kinship of soul between them. It is this enigma that we need to clarify in order to under-stand what is at stake in the prodigious, chaotic and perilous evolution of musical art in the 20th century.

Anastasia Yasko – 20th century Russian piano sonatas

Among the genres of piano music, the piano sonata is a particularly complex and exciting phenomenon with a rich history. In Russia, the piano sonata flourished at the turn of the 20th century. A number of piano sonatas by various composers from different eras have a permanent place in the repertoire. When we talk about piano sonatas by Russian composers, we usually refer to works from the first half of the 20th century by well-known and popular composers such as Rachmaninoff, Scriabin and Prokofiev. However, the majority of piano sonatas written by Soviet composers after the Second World War are still languishing in obscurity, both in Russia as well as on the international concert scene.

On this recording, the Russian pianist Anastasia Yasko presents a selection of magnificent but little-known piano sonatas by Sergei Prokofiev, Georgy Sviridov, Samuil Feinberg, and Mieczysław Weinberg. By presenting both the various stylistic directions of New Music as well as the distinguishing features of the Russian musical tradition, the selection paints a diverse picture of the Soviet era. The idea for the project arose from Anastasia Yasko’s scientific research as a doctoral candidate at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg.

Bach Trio Sonaten

One of the attractions of the amusement parks of my childhood was the so-called House of Mirrors, where warped mirrors reflected a distorted image back onto the visitor, depending on its physical characteristics. Whilst all of the works on this recording are listed in the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, they also present artful reflections on other works by Johann Sebastian Bach or on his activities as a music teacher.

“Historically, the instrumental genre of the trio sonata belongs to the Baroque period, just as the string quartet is at home in the Classical period”, wrote the great baroque violinist and ensemble director Jaap Schröder in his accompanying remarks to a recording of trio sonatas by Giovanni Maria Bononcini and Henry Purcell in 1994. The trio sonata—be it as music for three voices with two contrapuntal melody parts and basso continuo, or as works for a melody instrument and harpsichord ‘accompaniment’, where the harpsichordist’s right and left hand are split into a second melody voice and basso continuo—takes pride of place in the realm of Baroque chamber music in the same way that the string quartet, since Joseph Haydn, has come to represent the pinnacle of Viennese Classicism. Detmar Huchting

European Treasures Vol. 12 – Johann Melchior Molter, Kölner Akademie, Michael Willens

Music from Molter’s first Karlsruhe period (1722–33) primarily embodies Italian elements, especially those of Vivaldi and others he encountered during his visit (1719–21), but French traditions can also be perceived. While in Eisenach (1734–41), he assimilated Telemann’s idioms especially through interaction with Saxon composers such as Johann Bernhard Bach, Johann Christian Hertel, and Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. Molter’s second Italian trip (1737–38) exposed him to the evolving Neapolitan galant traditions that influenced his compositions during his second Karlsruhe period (1741–65) especially as he became more familiar with composers from Mannheim and Darmstadt. Molter’s music encompasses the musical genres of the first half of the 18th century, even though much of his vocal music is lost. Moreover, it is uncertain if he wrote operas since the surviving Karlsruhe libretti do not mention him as a composer. Music to some twenty sacred or secular vocal works survive, although texts and documentary evidence would indicate slightly over a hundred. His instrumental music spans his entire career with nearly 500 separate works surviving. Most numerous are his 170 symphonies, roughly 120 chamber works for two, three or four performers, about 70 concerti for one or two soloists and orchestra, nearly 60 ensemble works labeled overtures, sonatas and concerti, and about 50 compositions for winds instruments.

Amadeus-Chor – Denn es will Abend werden

In recent years climate change has shaken up many people. A new awareness of nature and its value has been awakened. Many more people have become conscious of humanity’s dependence on the natural world, its vulnerability and endangerment. A new understanding has arisen of the connections and interdependency of all living things, one that questions short-sighted utilitarian thinking, the desire for individual pleasure profit, and the increasing spread of digital parallel worlds. The Covid-19 crisis has only added to this realization.

We are reminded of the simple questions: What is really important, what needs to be protected, what is reliable and necessary? – the Romantic Era gets surprisingly topical.

The lyrics of romanticism and its often congenial compositions reject detached rationality, rather, they want to broaden the mind and include the unconscious, the dreamlike, passions and secrets. The poems and songs reflect and create visions of ancient castles, wide valleys, pale fields, and time and time again, forest, birds and rushing brooks, the moon and stars etc. Revived memories of pictures, sounds and sensations evoke desire, sorrow, hope and trust. False vanity plays no part in our sense of value. The union with nature heals, teaches human values and conveys a transcendent sense of security.

In order to narrow down the selection from the huge number of romantic song compositions, evening songs have been chosen for this production. On the threshold of night the day gets reviewed and there´s space for lament, thanks, praise and prayers. In the transition to sleep and dreaming, people entrust themselves to the concealed light in the darkness. So the compositions are an invi-tation to a kind of renewed naivety, to rest and confidence in a reliable and true universe. Thus this CD provides music at the right time.