1935, 1957, 2012, Music

Simplicius Simplicissimus (2012) by Karl Amadeus Hartmann, performed by Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Choir, Juliane Banse, Petermarsch, Will Hartmann conducted by Markus Stenz

From the very opening bars it’s clear that this is no ordinary opera. And though that’s true of the most path-breaking and challenging operas of the early 20th century – I am thinking chiefly of Berg’s work – this one is perhaps more shocking given the (seemingly) more traditional stance of the composer.

The opera is based on the novel of the same name, which was a reaction to the 30 Years War – and apparently has the same kind of stature in German literature as Tristam Shandy does in English literature, so that’s cool. One of the things that most impresses me about this is Hartmann’s foresight: he originally wrote this in the mid ’30s as an attack on the Nazis, and it’s always cool to see someone who had such foresight – i.e., in this case, predicting WWII.

The music is all over the place, and is a somewhat odd amalgam of the kind of radical music people like Bartok were making – I wouldn’t go so far as to say Berg, as this is still pretty tonal – and some more traditional ideas, but it’s very radical for an opera – even at this late stage, when Debussy, Berg and others had really torn opera to shreds – and that has a lot of appeal for me. At least initially, I like it considerably more than Ullman’s similarly anti-Nazi Der Kaiser von Atlantis, which has a significantly greater critical reputation (to my knowledge).

To me it’s one of the finer operas to come out of Germany during the ’30s – not that I know anything about that – and I’ glad that I have given Hartmann a chance, especially given his lack of rep in the repertoire.

9/10

  1. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act I: Overture – “l’hommage de Serge Prokofieff” 9:56
  2. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act I: Introduction – “Anno Domini” 3:13
  3. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act I: Erster Teil – “Du sehr verachter Bauernstand” 6:13
  4. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act I: “Der Baum” 4:24
  5. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act I: Finale – “O lauf, Bub!” 3:09
  6. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act I: Zwischenspiel – “Tränen des Vaterlandes, anno 1636” 8:01
  7. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act II: “Wald, hinten ein Kreuz – Komm, Trost der Nacht” 3:47
  8. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act II: “Bäume, lauter Bäume” 3:13
  9. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act II: “Unser lieber Vater” 3:05
  10. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act II: “Mein treuester Vater” 3:3
  11. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act II: “Nun Simplici, liebes Kind” 6:19
  12. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act II: “Mein lieber und wahrer, einziger Sohn” 4:13
  13. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Bankett beim Gouverneur” 0:55
  14. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Drei Tänze der Dame, No. 1 Schnell” 1:30
  15. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Drei Tänze der Dame, No. 2 Lustig” 1:05
  16. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Drei Tänze der Dame, No. 3 Furioso” 1:15
  17. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Als Männer sind wir durchaus ehrlich” 2:49
  18. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Lebhaft – Hochedler Herr Gubernator” 2:08
  19. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Hauptmann tanzt mit der Dame” 0:34
  20. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Mein Gott” 1:44
  21. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Schlag mich der Donner” 1:13
  22. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Herr, jetzt seh’ ich wohl” 1:26
  23. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Bravo, Simplici, bravissimo!” 1:54
  24. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Finale – Dank Herr!” 3:12
  25. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Marsch – Es dröhnt die Stadt” 2:10
  26. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Gepriesen sei der Richter der Wahrheit!” 1:54
  27. Simplicius Simplicissimus, Act III: “Apotheose”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.