HOUSTON (August 2, 2017) – The Houston Symphony was awarded the prestigious ECHO KLASSIK 2017 award in the category of Best Opera Recording (20th/21st Century Opera) for the recording of Alan Berg’s Wozzeck under the direction of former Music Director Hans Graf. The winners were announced by the Deutsche Phono-Akademie in recognition of outstanding achievements in the music industry.
Recorded in March 1, 2013, the highly-anticipated two-disc album is a significant addition to the successful Houston Symphony recordings conducted by Graf during his tenure as music director. Hans made his Naxos debut in 2009 with the Houston Symphony’s recording of Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony and Berg’s Three Pieces.
Based on real events and playwright Georg Büchner’s starkly vehement text, Alban Berg’s tragic opera Wozzeck is an epoch-making work, in stark contrast to the previous high romantic ideals of the genre. Immensely powerful and heartbreakingly moving as a drama, Wozzeck explores the victimization, despair and madness of a central character who has no place in society, its deeply humane message and sublimely innovative score firmly establishing it as a 20th-century masterpiece.
“Büchner’s timeless, daring message of empathy and understanding along with Berg’s incredible music, emotional and precise, yielded perhaps the greatest opera of the 20th century,” said Graf. “The Houston Symphony’s performances show how it can be done in concert, staged lightly with great care and love – and with great impact.”
Recent Houston Symphony recordings include the critically-acclaimed recordings of the last four Dvořák’s Symphonies released on the Dutch label Pentatone. Future recording projects under the direction of current Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada include Haydn’s The Creation and a Music of the Americas disc featuring Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Revueltas’ Sensemayá, Piazzolla’s Tangazo and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
The ECHO KLASSIK trophies will be handed out on Sunday, October 29, during a gala event in the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall in Hamburg. The German public TV channel ZDF will broadcast the ceremony that evening starting at 10 pm.
High-resolution images can be downloaded here.
About Hans Graf
Appointed Music Director of the Houston Symphony in 2001, Hans Graf concluded his tenure in May 2013 and is the longest serving Music Director in the orchestra’s history. Prior to his appointment in Houston, he was the Music Director of the Calgary Philharmonic for eight seasons and held the same post with the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine for six years. He also led the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra from 1984 to 1994. He has recorded for the EMI, Orfeo, CBC, Erato, Capriccio and JVC labels, and his extensive discography includes the complete symphonies of Mozart and Schubert, the première recording of Zemlinsky’s opera Es war einmal and the complete orchestral works of Dutilleux. He has been awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government for championing French music around the world as well as the Grand Decoration of Honour.
About the Houston Symphony
During the 2017-18 season, the Houston Symphony celebrates its fourth season with Music Director Andrés Orozco- Estrada and continues its second century as one of America’s leading orchestras with a full complement of concert, community, education, touring and recording activities. The Houston Symphony, one of the oldest performing arts organizations in Texas, held its inaugural performance at The Majestic Theater in downtown Houston June 21, 1913. Today, with an annual operating budget of $33.9 million, the full-time ensemble of 88 professional musicians presents nearly 170 concerts annually, making it the largest performing arts organization in Houston. Additionally, musicians of the orchestra and the Symphony’s four Community-Embedded Musicians offer more than 900 community-based performances each year, reaching thousands of people in Greater Houston. For tickets and more information, please visit houstonsymphony.org or call 713-224-7575.