“If you wish to possess the future you must first surmount the past”, wrote Hanns Eisler (1898 – 1962) in the foreword to his Ernste Gesänge (serious songs). The Lieder cycle is Eisler's swan song, his last work, completed only weeks before his death and defined by memory and at the same time by the hope of future happiness. Nearly 50 years to the day after the premiere of the work by the Staatskapelle Dresden, that same orchestra under its conductor Christian Thielemann (“top class!” – Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten) dedicates its opening concert to this now world-famous cycle of songs. They have engaged as soloist none other than Thomas Hampson (“With ample range of dynamics and tone colours” – Il Giornale del Popolo) – a premiere both for the singer and for Thielemann, since neither artist has to date performed Eisler's work.
Combined with Eisler's song cycle is Bruckner's 5th Symphony, which was in turn a confrontation with the past for its composer – both from a personal, biographical angle and as a departure from his usual composition technique. Bruckner's Fifth proved to be the departure point for new, unconventional strategies in his symphonic composing style. This symphony is acknowledged as his “contrapuntal masterpiece”. Christian Thielemann once again proves himself to be a “magician of the (Bruckner) sound” (Kurier): “from the softly sounding introduction that slowly emerges as if from celestial spheres, the Fifth was a special musical delight which raised high hopes that were not disappointed; on the contrary, they were exceeded. “The end of the third movement took one's breath away (Der Neue Merker)”. Following on from his recordings of the 7th and 8th, Christian Thielemann has added to his cycle of Bruckner symphonies with this Fifth with the Staatskapelle Dresden.