BBC Music Magazine - - Reviews -

Das Lied der Nacht

Lina Liu, Ralph Er­tel, Su­sann Vent-wun­der­lich, Gritt Gnauck; Osnabrück The­atre Cho­rus & Sym­phony Or­ches­tra/an­dreas Hotz CPO 555 186-2 137:07 mins (2 discs)

The four operas of ★ans Gál (18901987) all be­long to the first part of his ca­reer, which, fol­low­ing stud­ies with Brahms’s friend Euse­bius Mandy­czewski in his na­tive Vi­enna, saw him flour­ish un­til the rise of the Nazis. Gál es­caped to Bri­tain, en­dur­ing hard­ships in­clud­ing in­tern­ment as an ‘en­emy alien’ dur­ing World War II but even­tu­ally set­tling into academic life at the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh and be­com­ing one of the founders of that city’s fa­mous fes­ti­val. Like his fel­low refugee com­posers Egon Wellesz and Berthold Gold­schmidt, Gál would never achieve op­er­atic fame in this coun­try, and his operas await full re-eval­u­a­tion.

This world pre­miere record­ing, based on a stag­ing in Osnabrück last year, is an im­por­tant act of resti­tu­tion. Gál’s score, re­call­ing in places Mahler and the Strauss of Ari­adne auf Naxos yet pos­sessed of its own voice, may not have sounded es­pe­cially modern when it was first heard in Bres­lau (Wroc aw) in 1926, but it does show the com­poser’s strong dra­matic in­stincts (he wrote books on Verdi and Wag­ner, among oth­ers). There is plenty of sym­bol­ist po­ten­tial in this ‘dra­matic bal­lad’, as the com­poser called it; the ‘night’ in the work’s ti­tle is that mo­ment when the man-hat­ing Princess suc­cumbs, only tem­po­rar­ily it tran­spires, to the se­duc­tive song of the Name­less Singer. This noc­tur­nal sen­su­al­ity is well con­veyed by the lead­ing so­prano and tenor, Lina Liu and Ralph Er­tel, and if any­thing the rest of the en­sem­ble is even stronger, sound­ing in­volved and im­pres­sive un­der An­dreas ★otz’s sym­pa­thetic ba­ton. John Allison



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