Telling the tragic true tale of brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl, Weiße Rose, with its stark storytelling and pared down orchestration, takes us back to Nazi Germany and to the prison cells of the doomed siblings hours before their execution. Condemned by the Nazis to die for leading a non-violent resistance group, Hans and Sophie reflect on their actions together in the tense and claustrophobic atmosphere of the jail. The opera takes place in real time, allowing the listener to become completely absorbed in the action. While the appalling outcome of the siblings' fate is set in stone from the beginning, there are still marked elements of hope and faith in humanity, something that shines through right to the bitter end.
Udo Zimmermann spent three careful years working on the score. With a reduced ensemble of just 16 players, the music is expertly crafted to bring out diverse orchestral textures from the performers. Zimmermann himself is heard here conducting the work with the Musica Viva Ensemble Dresden, who offer superb support to the young soloists.
Udo Zimmermann's opera Weisse Rose is one of the most powerful and moving dramatic works of the 20-th century. It features a brother and sister waiting their execution under Nazi prosecution, a bitter and poignant message of human courage and life force against brutal power and nihilism.
The scoring of two vocal soloists and 16 instrumentalists provides an extreme range of expression, from the wild dissonances and weird effects depicting the evil, and the elegiac moods of soul searching humanity and resignation.
An authoritative performance from 1986, conducted by the composer himself, with the two highly impressive vocal soloists Grazyna Szklarecka and Frank Schiller.
The booklet contains excellent liner notes, the libretto is available on www.brilliantclassics.com
Recorded in 1988 in Dresden, Germany
Sung in German
Contains notes on the opera and the composer