Arranged by Jobst Liebrecht
Jobst Liebrecht

  • 2(picc,afl).3(ca,heck).2(bcl).2(cbn)/2+Wtba.2.2.1/timp.4perc/
  • 15 min

Programme Note

Among Hans Werner Henze’s late works including the three deeply personal pieces Elogium musicum, Opfergang and An den Wind, the youth opera Gisela! plays a special role as a cheerful buffo-counterpoint. With joy and emotion I remember the fun and humour the old master used to carve out the bizarrely comedic turns of events of this piece of musical theatre which is located between Naples and Oberhausen.

Just as the genre requires, the team involved often did not know which part of the plot had been reached, who was playing which role, and which bad or funny end the whole story was going to meet. Although the opera starts with the greatest joviality in the bright Italian sun, it leads to the Ruhr, into the area of the gloomy northern German fog, and protestant inwardness, before a Trans-European eruption of Vesuvius ends the play. Just like in Henze’s other late works, in Gisela!, too, the musical delineation is condensed and concentrated to the highest level. This requires the audience to direct their antennas with much attention to the delicate, often instantaneous, and often ironic record.

Hans Werner Henze himself writes in his introduction to the music: "Thus, one had to refrain from the use of traditional forms for the proliferations of the music not to be disturbed and their growth not to be delimited." Nevertheless, during his work he always kept in mind some instrumental fixed points that were to become structural and bridgeing interludes, which in the course of the work they indeed did. My starting idea was to use these interludes as the basis of a suite, so that parts of the music of Gisela! could resound in a concert. Apart from a few moments I have consciously prescinded from re-instumentations and insertion of vocal parts into the orchestral score. For this reason, many touching but also especially funny scenes and arias of the opera had to be excluded. In return it is the 'original' Henze sound.
Nebelheim und Sonnenland will be premiered by the newly-founded Landesjugendensemble Neue Musik Berlin in the Tischlerei of the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. May this piece preserve the memory of Hans Werner Henze’s great commitment to the work of children- and youth orchestras.

(c) Jobst Liebrecht, June 2013