Chor und Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin;
CPO 777 819-2
In 1913, when he was only eighteen years old, Carl Orff finished his first opera – Gisei. This tragic story featuring the sacrificial death of a child as well as Japanese culture in general so greatly inspired the young composer that throughout his life he remained fond of Japan. In Japanese tragedy he found numerous similarities to the ancient Greek tragedies of Sophocles, with which he constantly engaged himself intensively. A carefully groping version of the young Carl Orff with suggestions of the avant-garde can be heard in the ancient Japanese drama focusing on a village school at which a high-ranking official sacrifices his own son in order to save his master's son. Even though many stylistic features seem to have been derived from various sources, certain tonal gestures and over long stretches the instrumentation anticipate the imagination of one of the most original composers of the twentieth century. Orff perhaps later met Felix von Weingartner at the Darmstadt Court Theater and possibly also told him about this subject matter there. At any rate, Weingartner's later one-act Die Dorfschule is also based on the Terakoya material. Next month we will release this version, again in a recording with the German Opera of Berlin.
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