Cassandra Records presents the world-premiere recording of two symphonic works by German composer Kurt Hessenberg that had been at one time enthusiastically promoted by an impressive roster of legendary maestri of the 20th Century. Wilhelm Furtwängler premiered the Second Symphony in Dec. 1944, with (alas, the unfulfilled) intention of performing it “everywhere I have an opportunity of doing so.” Furtwängler conducted the earlier Concerto for Orchestra as well and brought it on tour with the Berlin Philharmonic. Other conductors, including Rosbaud, Kabasta, Elmendorff, Weisbach and Konwitschny, also took up the Concerto in their repertoire. Across the Atlantic, the American public first heard about Hessenberg from Virgil Thomson, who in 1946 toured Germany in surveying its postwar musical life and reported his findings in his famous New York Herald-Tribune column. Having examined its score, Thomson wrote extensively on Hessenberg’s Second Symphony, describing it as being “melodious and completely successful” and proclaiming that it is “great work and should be heard.”
Yet, these works have never been performed in the U.S., and the Second Symphony may not have been heard anywhere since 1947. Although Furtwängler’s critically hailed premiere performance of the work was recorded for broadcast, the tapes have never surfaced over the decades. Thus, the Hessenberg Second Symphony lived-on only in the memories and written accounts of those who were fortunate enough to have heard it over half a century ago - until now.
The Chinese-American conductor Leland Sun conducts the performances on this recording. The experienced Slovak Radio Symphony plays in peak form for Maestro Sun in these Hessenberg works.