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Kafka's Trial
Hanne Fischer, mezzo soprano
Johnny van Hal, tenor
Bo Anker Hansen, bass
Ole Hedegaard, tenor
Gert Henning-Jensen, tenor
Anders Jakobsson, bass
Michael Kristensen, tenor
Hans Lawaetz, bass
Johan Reuter, bass
Royal Danish Opera Choir
Marianne Rørholm, mezzo soprano
Gisela Stille, soprano

Poul Ruders, composer

Royal Danish Orchestra
Thomas Søndergård, conductor

Following the success of The Handmaid’s Tale on CD in 2002, Dacapo Records is delighted to present the world premiere recording of Kafka’s Trial, Poul Ruders’ commission from the new Copenhagen Opera House in 2005. This time, Poul Ruders has chosen another nightmarish source of inspiration, namely Franz Kafka’s legendary, claustrophobic novel The Trial from 1925. And once again British librettist Paul Bentley has developed the literary source into a capturing opera score, weaving Kafka’s own destiny into the intricate plot of the novel.

The title role as Kafka is performed by Dutch-born tenor Johnny van Hal, who is starring also in Dacapo’s recent DVD production Antikrist. The other roles are performed by members of the Royal Danish Opera soloist ensemble and the mezzo-soprano Marianne Rørholm, who achieved high critical acclaim for her title role performance in The Handmaid’s Tale.

The young conductor Thomas Søndergård had a remarkable break-through with the Royal Danish Orchestra in his debut performance of Kafka’s Trial. Thomas Søndergård proved his skills with his masterly handling of the orchestra which was acclaimed in numerous international reviews of the opera.

Den internationale presse om opførelsen på Operaen:

Kafka on trial – Opera fans in heaven …The orchestra played brilliantly for its dynamic conductor.
(New York Times)

A wonderfully secure musical performance under Thomas Søndergård, and a relentlessly surreal production from Fransisco Negrin
(The Guardian)

Kafka’s Trial proved a fruitful alliance between composer, librettist and an opera company revitalised by its new theatre and willing to experiment.

'Kafka’s Trial' marked a spectacular break-through for young conductor Thomas Søndergård … his responsiveness to the musical styles within Ruders’ multi-layered orchestral texture gave ‘Kafka’s Trial’ its aural integrity, making the score sound attractive and seductive.
(Opera News)

'Kafka’s Trial' is an unsettling rather than disturbing work, fascinating without being insightfull, but undeniably entertaining.
(Gramophone, 06/06)

Das alles ist pfiffig und mit versiertem Bühnenhandwerk arrangiert, die grotesken und komischen Momente überwiegen, das Timing läßt nichts zu wünschen übrig. Und entsprechend geschickt arbeitet auch der Komponist Poul Ruders, der mit einer gewissen Lässigkeit durch die verschiedenen Stile surft.

Ruders musik er stor og medrivende. FYldt med lidenskaber, humor, dysterhed, dramatik - og erotik.

Ruders har tydeligvis hele tiden hånden på volumenkontrollen under det virtuose kompositionsarbejde, så den ganske komplekse og indholdsrige tekst kommer tydeligt frem.
(Dansk Musik Tidsskrift)

Ruder´s highly listenable music draws on diverse influences, evoking the sounds of Kafka´s composer-contemperaries while remaining refreshing individual. This premiere recording, taken from a live production, features fine performances from the soprano Gisela Stille (Felice), alto Marianne Rørholm (Greta) and tenor Johnny van Halen under the strong leadership of the young Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard.
(***** BBC Music Magazine)

There is a huge expressive variety in the score, and the performances conducted by Thomas Sondergaard seem as impressive on disc as they were in the opera house.

The music careens vividly. Ruders has always written beautifully for large forces, and there are some riveting sonorities here for orchestra and chorus.
(Newark Starledger, Bradley Bambarger)

The dedication of the Royal Danish Orchestra is never in doubt under Thomas Søndergård: his pacing of dramatic action is that of a born opera conductor.
(International Record Review)

Poul Ruders´og Paul Bentleys opera...er...særdeles vellykket, og dertil spændende og medrivende foruroligende, præcis som forlægget af Kafka.
(Klassisk *****)

Ruders´ demanding score is brilliantly realized, its considerable stylistic challenges met head-on in playing of richness and fluent virtuosity. Praise must also be given to Dacapo´s presentation, a model of its kind...Sound quality is also first-rate.

The music is fleet and clever, often mocking in tone...letting the plot deliver the laughs while pointing up the darker aspects. The cast is uniformly excellent....Thomas Søndergård directs a fluent account, beautifully recorded. Well worth investigating.
(Nordic Sounds, 09/2006)

Der synges idiomatisk og indlevet af alle medvirkende, og den debuterende Thomas Søndergård holder med imponerende sikkerhed sammen på det store apparat.
(High Fidelity)

Live recorded from The Copenhagen Opera House 31 March, 4 and 9 April 2005
Recording producer: Henrik Sleiborg
Sound engineer: Peter Bo Nielsen
Editing engineers: Peter Bo Nielsen and Henrik Sleiborg
Graphic design: Elevator
Cover photo: Martin Rønne
Publisher: Edition Wilhelm Hansen AS www.ewh.dk
Stage director: Francisco Negrin

Dacapo Records acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of Kong Frederik og Dronning Ingrids Fond, Augustinus Fonden, Den Berlingske Fond, Konsul George Jorck og Hustru Emma Jorck’s Fond, Magister Jürgen Balzers Fond, Højesteretssagfører. C.L. Davids Legat for Slægt og Venner, Dansk Korforbund and KODA’s National Funds.

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