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HK Gruber
, composer / conductor / chansonnier


On Frankenstein!!

"a virtually uncategorizable work, a zanily bedazzling collage of different influences and styles, ranging all the way from bar-room cabaret to parodies of operatic declamation….great fun."
Classic CD, January 1998

"both grisly and bizarre, and altogether an extraordinary conception….The score is often hilarious, but Gruber’s own delivery, a tour de force of vocal gymnastics, reinforces the underlying seriousness."
The Times, December 1997

"hugely entertaining and devilishly clever…..How to describe it to anyone who has never heard it? The music touches all those areas of culture to which the texts (in which Frankenstein and Dracula rub shoulders with James Bond and Goldfinger) refer. So pop music and hints of folk-song, Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler are all thrown into the mix to fuse with Stravinskian neo-classicism and the long tradition of Viennese cabaret. The humour is black but quizzically genial, Gruber’s own performance is gleefully exuberant, but there’s something to the musical style of Frankenstein!! which taps deep roots and protects it from being no more than an entertaining jeu d’esprit."
Gramophone, November 1997

On Weill and Eisler

"The inimitable Viennese composer, conductor and ‘chansonnier’ HK Gruber was in his element, launching the evening with the doomed jollity of ‘Berlin im Licht,’ a celebration of a great city on the verge of economic and social disaster. His distinctive vocal tones, if a little over-amplified, seemed just right….The presciently sardonic attack against multinationals, ‘Mussels from Margate,’ was delivered maniacally by the irrepressible Mr Gruber. His penetrating tones were put to more sombre use in the Sprechgesang of Vom Tod im Wald, one of Weill’s memorable settings of Brecht."
The Independent, March 2000

"he made the music and the Ensemble Modern quiver with instrumental detail….this was a carefully crafted texture of sound, pointedly articulated so that such evocative sonorities as the plink-plonk of the banjo and the whine of the saxophone peeked through and asserted their piquancy."
Daily Telegraph, October 1999

"HK Gruber, who conducted this concert, is in some respects a spiritual heir of Eisler, both as a composer and as a performer of Eisler’s works. In the jazzy overture and songs for Johann Nestroy’s play Höllenangst and in Die Mutter, Gruber was a marvellously vital chansonnier, lucid and vividly expressive."
Daily Telegraph, May 1998

On Aerial

"irresistible fun; and as usual, Gruber’s idiosyncratic harmonies lend it a strange poignancy."
Financial Times, August 2000

"Gruber weaves a musical tapestry bristling with wit and invention, punctuated with telling silences and animated by syncopations that suggest a world out of kilter….a dazzling display of compositional technique.
The Times, August 1999

"just the mixture of sly wit and Austrian obliquity you would expect from this archetypically Viennese composer….This one can expect to become a major addition to the repertoire."
The Independent, August 1999