Instrumental Music



Das Jahr. The Year. Ein Klavierzyklus A Piano Cycle (1841) (47')
12 charakter pieces for piano arranged for piano and orchestra (Martin Torp)

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Given that large sections of Fanny Hensel’s piano cycle are clearly orchestral in conception, this magnum opus by the important female composer was (simply) crying out to be orchestrated. On the other hand, her extensive musical cycle also contains genuinely pianistic passages that would have lost much of their musical substance had they been transferred to other instruments.
Whereas a composer like Ravel, in his orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, occasionally added notes of his own, Torp has remained strictly faithful to the original in this respect – using, as his basis, Fanny Hensel’s own annotated manuscript first published in autumn 2000. In parts 1, 2 and 12 the composer incorporated references to A Midsummer Night’s Dream composed by her brother Felix, and in the final Choral (No. 13) it is possible to discern the beginning of Bach’s St Mathew Passion. Martin Torp has underlined these musical references by appropriate orchestration in his transcription.

Ouvertüre C-Dur for Orchestra (10’)
(strings, timp.)
First publication  (E. M. Blankenburg)

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“The work boasts bold modulations, a finely controlled rise and fall of tension, and scoring of a resourcefulness bordering on the quirky - some very low pedal notes for the horn, and a trumpet fanfare appearing from out of the blue.” (THE TIMES, March 10, 1994)

Hero und Leander (1832)
Dramatical scene for soprano and orchestra (12')
scoring: 2.Picc.2.2.2.- and strings
(E. M. Blankenburg) First publication

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Fanny Hensel devides the poem in two Recitativos and two Arias. The metaphors within text the give her rich opportunity for musical illustration. At the same time different musical moods are introduced to characterize the changing states of the dramatical process. “This work...begins to approach a kind of piece with which Hensel could have had great artistic success....It is a clear indication of her acceptance of herself as a real romantic composer. No longer trying to imitate Bach or Handel, but following her own instincts as to subject, form and vocabulary, Fannys awakening understanding of herself as a composer paralleled Felix’s, who finished his most successful cantata (which also happenes to be on a secular theme and employs an original form), ‘Die erste Walpurgisnacht’ in February of 1832.”
Victoria Sirota