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Michael Hersch: Last Autumn

Michael Hersch: Last Autumn

Label: Innova Records (907)
Jamie Hersch, horn
Daniel Gaisford, cello
Release Date: 2015


Completed in 2008, Michael Hersch's 2-hour work for horn and cello, Last Autumn, has been described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as a "portrait of something too huge and undefinable, glorious and terrible, to be seen in anything more than glimpses." A work "whose riches defy the harmonic limitations of the instruments. ... Together, they created wild portraits of alienated togetherness."

Performed here by hornist Jamie Hersch and cellist Daniel Gaisford, for whom the piece was written, Last Autumn is the second in a series of evening-length works written by the composer over the past decade.

The Philadelphia Inquirer continued, "Some of the best music was solo soliloquies. Periodic lullabies lamented while giving comfort. However large, the piece never sprawls. ... Poem fragments by W. G. Sebald quoted in the score begin with bleak and wintry images, giving way to visions of fertility before lapsing back into darkness.”


"Last Autumn is an enormous forty-one movement commentary on, or extension of, W. G. Sebald's prose poem 'After Nature' ... Having had early successes with works for large forces, Hersch has latterly turned to pieces of expansive duration for a small number of musicians of whom the utmost dedication and technical and expressive prowess are required. A pervasive melancholy is present throughout the work, with episodes of shocking violence; the succession of movements coalesces into a large structure, masterfully ebbing and flowing but with an underlying tension that is never absent ... A powerful and disturbing listening experience..."
— Records International
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"Hersch continues to impress as one of the foremost compositional voices of our times ... He manages to construct a long-form chamber work that, like some architectural masterpieces, obscures the structural support, the beams and joists that enable the graceful magnificence of the seen (heard) end result to hold together. There is an immediacy to the music, the expressiveness of beauty and brutality together ..."
— Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music
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