This re-issue is of vital importance for many reasons, if only for the message and moral of the story. The Prometheus trilogy written by Aeschylus 'circa' 460 BC depicts how out of a struggle between supernatural powers, a world order is born built on law and justice. This same struggle goes on today, albeit with scant success in many instances.
Orff's composition, premièred in Stuttgart on the 24th March 1968 is a creation with a new and distinctive style, still what sets it really apart is the use of the original ancient Greek text for the libretto. This is no mere experiment on Orff's part, as ancient Greek, with its rich vowel sounds, dynamic rhythms and architectural beauty of its syntax provided the composer with a vibrant and flexible basis on which to construct this unique drama. Orff's orchestration is also supplemented by percussion, electronic sounds and modern wind and thunder machines, thus infusing the work with a certain cosmic beauty that is rare to find in his other works.
This pioneering 1972 recording is an outstanding achievement in all respects. Leitner keeps a tight grip on proceedings, particularly on the soloists who have the arduous task of singing and 'acting' simultaneously. Roland Hermann as Prometheus and Colette Lorand as Io are particularly impressive in interpretations full of power and tragic insight. The remastering is commendable and compares strongly with today's digital issues. Wolfgang Schadewalt's scholarly essay is a further plus in a set that reveals Orff as a truly great composer full of human understanding and yet, still learned enough to converse with the gods of hallowed antiquity.
Copyright © 2005, Gerald Fenech