Author Topic: Reicha's RomperRoom  (Read 9270 times)

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Offline snyprrr

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Reicha's RomperRoom
« on: July 29, 2009, 11:08:15 AM »
Antonin Reicha's (Rejcha) name always seems to pop up when discussing bizarre experiments in music. He seems to be most famous for his wind quintets, but wrote much else also. There is an interesting SQ called Quatour scientifique (1806).

Someone on the Hummel thread (2007) believed that Reicha SQs were being recorded, but I haven't seen any evidence of this. I had read some web thing somewhere where a quartet was rehearsing Reicha SQs, and the "sitter-in" who was journalizing their rehearsals had some interesting this to say about the music.

My interest in this composer is reaching the breaking point, but I haven't found a single cd that screams out at me. Again, I would certainly like to check out the SQs, but I don't think any have been recorded. I'm not particularly interested in the wind quintets (unless recommended), though the bassoon quintets look interesting, and I think he has some oboe and flute quartets/quintets... you always see Reicha and Danzi together on cds.

So, what's so bizarre and wonderful about Reicha?
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DavidW

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2009, 02:35:26 PM »
There is an interesting article on Reicha's String Quartets on classical.net

http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/articles/reicha/quartets/index.php

http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/articles/reicha/quartets/sounding4.php

I think he agrees with you that Reicha's SQs are important and need to be recorded. :-\

Sean

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2009, 02:52:51 PM »
The overture in quintuple time is a strange piece, seemless yet twisted.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2009, 03:25:32 AM »
I got this CD:

http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=1127

It is very nice. However, the rave review by Everyone's Favorite Critic made me think that the music would approach a Beethoven-type level of invention. It doesn't; it's just nice, friendly stuff.
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DavidW

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2009, 03:56:33 AM »
Wow Classics Today's drive-by reviews are such a waste of time! :D

I just want to contrast with a review of another Reicha recording.  This review takes the time to give a picture of how the works fit in with history, describe in detail the music, the performance and the recording itself.  Musicweb is far superior to that silly Classics Today. 0:)

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2005/Sep05/Reicha_quintets_CD266.htm

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2009, 04:02:26 AM »
Musicweb is far superior to that silly Classics Today. 0:)

I partially disagree. I find Musicweb extremely variable, some of their reviews are good and contain useful detail, while others are badly written and shallow. I wonder sometimes about the editorial oversight there. Meanwhile, I've read plenty of worthwhile reviews at Classics Today (depends mainly on who's doing the reviewing).

A larger problem is the trend of promoting semi-forgotten composers - who may be worth listening to on their own terms - as criminally neglected geniuses.  :)
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2009, 04:05:32 AM »
By the way snyprrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, why do you list your interests as "SQs, Berlioz-Xenakis" when Berlioz didn't write any SQs?  ???
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2009, 03:20:40 PM »
By the way snyprrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, why do you list your interests as "SQs, Berlioz-Xenakis" when Berlioz didn't write any SQs?  ???

haha,... I wanted to come up with some smartass answer, but...hey, I just gravitated to SQs within the last couple of years, and that mainly just because of ear fatigue.

At the time I joined here, I had a distaste for pre-late LvB (I've never had a prob with late LvB). Berlioz was the first modern to my ears (at the time). I had always enjoyed Lelio. (and SF, of course) I have PLENTY of orchestral music and other such stuff, and chamber, but...

Generally, I like pre-classical/post-romantic music. Only since my current foray into the era have I begun to appreciate it's achievements, though, still, there is much I don't care for 1750-1900 (as chambernut and davidw can attest, haha).

Concerning Reicha, however, his reputation as a wild and wacky experimentor certainly makes me want to know if the reports are true.

There is an interesting article on Reicha's String Quartets on classical.net

http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/articles/reicha/quartets/index.php

http://www.classical.net/music/comp.lst/articles/reicha/quartets/sounding4.php

I think he agrees with you that Reicha's SQs are important and need to be recorded. :-\

Dail-up precludes me, but I think that that may be what I read that sparked my interest in this thread.

Anyone else?
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2009, 05:28:28 AM »
a reconsideration

I listened again to the disc I mentioned above, and found more depth in it than I recall on my last listen. In fact, the music's been going around in my head for a couple of days now. Makes me think Reicha is worth further investigation after all.

Also, apparently he "wrote the most demented fugues of all time":

http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=7100

And I am considering his clarinet & bassoon quartets - anyone heard 'em?:

http://www.amazon.com/Anton-Reicha-Quintets-String-Quartets/dp/B0000021EH/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1250861236&sr=8-9
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2009, 10:29:17 AM »
I hadn't noticed that this thread existed... That's why I hadn't posted in it before.

As an enthusiastic admirer of Rejcha's music, I had been thinking for some time of posting a list of recommended works in Gurn's classical corner. Now that Gurn has admitted that for him the classicism extends until the end of the nineteenth century, I guess I will not post it there... ;)

Now seriously, I will post such a list here and there within a short time. I'll try to reply now to some of this thread's contributions.

Someone on the Hummel thread (2007) believed that Reicha SQs were being recorded, but I haven't seen any evidence of this. I had read some web thing somewhere where a quartet was rehearsing Reicha SQs, and the "sitter-in" who was journalizing their rehearsals had some interesting this to say about the music.

I hope someone will have the good idea of recording those string quartets. Until now, as far as I know, there are no recordings available.

I got this CD:

http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=1127

It is very nice. However, the rave review by Everyone's Favorite Critic made me think that the music would approach a Beethoven-type level of invention. It doesn't; it's just nice, friendly stuff.

It is very good music; unfortunately, you chose to buy the most "innocent looking" of the three volumes of the series (the three are a wonderful introduction to Rejcha's chamber music). But they do not sound like Beethoven: the good thing is that Rejcha really did know how to compose for these instruments. His style is quite his own, probably the most distinctive voice in Beethoven's time (even more than Cherubini, whose impressively well-crafted music is not as "radical"). "Friendly" is quite the word I would use in a first approach to Rejcha: but he is deceiving. In many ways I would consider him the Bach of late classical: at first listening, his style can sound dry compared to other composers, but technically he has a lot to say. It's not a coincidence that he was the great theoretical writer of his time.

Wow Classics Today's drive-by reviews are such a waste of time! :D

I just want to contrast with a review of another Reicha recording.  This review takes the time to give a picture of how the works fit in with history, describe in detail the music, the performance and the recording itself.  Musicweb is far superior to that silly Classics Today. 0:)

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classRev/2005/Sep05/Reicha_quintets_CD266.htm

The wind quintets (these are the ones composed for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and horn; not to be mistaken with the "wind quintets" for wind + string quartet that were mentioned before) are an essential corpus both for the classical era and for wind music.

A larger problem is the trend of promoting semi-forgotten composers - who may be worth listening to on their own terms - as criminally neglected geniuses.  :)

In my very humble opinion, and I am not a person who would try to promote every second, third or fourth-rate composer as a genius, Rejcha could perfectly fit in such a description.

a reconsideration

I listened again to the disc I mentioned above, and found more depth in it than I recall on my last listen. In fact, the music's been going around in my head for a couple of days now. Makes me think Reicha is worth further investigation after all.

Also, apparently he "wrote the most demented fugues of all time":

http://www.classicstoday.com/review.asp?ReviewNum=7100

And I am considering his clarinet & bassoon quartets - anyone heard 'em?:

http://www.amazon.com/Anton-Reicha-Quintets-String-Quartets/dp/B0000021EH/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1250861236&sr=8-9


The fugues are quite outstanding. Beethoven said that they were no longer fugues, but in many aspects Rejcha was more radical than Beethoven (v. gr., complex rhythms, fragmentation of sonata form or the promotion of quarter-tones).

About the wind+string quartet quintets, I will repeat my previous suggestion: get the three volumes and enjoy the wonderful music!

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2009, 10:37:46 AM »
As an enthusiastic admirer of Rejcha's music, I had been thinking for some time of posting a list of recommended works in Gurn's classical corner. Now that Gurn has admitted that for him the classicism extends until the end of the nineteenth century, I guess I will not post it there... ;)


Now, that's just mean, Gabriel. :'(  I was only trying to be nice and inclusive. :D

OT, I think that Reicha's Wind Quintets are indispensable. I have 4 (of probably 10) disks of them and play them often. Some of the best purely wind music ever written, they present an endless fascination for me.

The other genre that he represents to me is the solo wind + string quartet. I can't remember what-all I have, I need to go through and have a look. But one that stands out is the Grand Quintet for Bassoon & Strings, a splendid works that represents the entire genre quite nicely. :)

8)
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2009, 11:20:09 AM »
Now, that's just mean, Gabriel. :'(  I was only trying to be nice and inclusive. :D

OT, I think that Reicha's Wind Quintets are indispensable. I have 4 (of probably 10) disks of them and play them often. Some of the best purely wind music ever written, they present an endless fascination for me.

The other genre that he represents to me is the solo wind + string quartet. I can't remember what-all I have, I need to go through and have a look. But one that stands out is the Grand Quintet for Bassoon & Strings, a splendid works that represents the entire genre quite nicely. :)

8)

The bassoon quintet is a delight indeed, Gurn. Since the first time I heard it, I have never forgotten the beautiful slow movement, such a delicate music for so complicated an instrument. The first time I was already amazed listening to it... and then Rejcha introduces the wonderful, dreamy new subject just at the end, as if saying 'you thought it was just that, eh?'. When I listen to it, sometimes I just stop the recording before the third movement begins, to enjoy the remembrance of this music with silence and nothing else. (The D+G recording is better than the CPO one, by the way).

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2009, 12:25:05 PM »
The bassoon quintet is a delight indeed, Gurn. Since the first time I heard it, I have never forgotten the beautiful slow movement, such a delicate music for so complicated an instrument. The first time I was already amazed listening to it... and then Rejcha introduces the wonderful, dreamy new subject just at the end, as if saying 'you thought it was just that, eh?'. When I listen to it, sometimes I just stop the recording before the third movement begins, to enjoy the remembrance of this music with silence and nothing else. (The D+G recording is better than the CPO one, by the way).

Yes, it is indeed that good. My recording is now a genuine antique, it dates from the early days of CD's, on ASV (IIRC). But I will have a look for another version, if only because it deserves it. :)

I am very nearly sure that I also have clarinet and oboe quartets/quintets too, but in truth, I haven't made a dedicated effort to listen to them in several months, and my memory is not to be trusted any more... :)

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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2009, 12:16:39 AM »
Thanks G & G; that's exactly the kind of advice I was looking for  :)

It is very good music; unfortunately, you chose to buy the most "innocent looking" of the three volumes of the series (the three are a wonderful introduction to Rejcha's chamber music).

I bought that one because another Reicha fan suggested that as the best place to start. I'm glad to hear such positive feedback on the Clarinet & Bassoon Quintets; I think I'll get that one next.
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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2009, 02:24:18 AM »
Ŕ chacun son goűt.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2009, 03:06:38 AM »
What do people think of the Reicha wind quintets on Naxos? Recommendable?
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2009, 01:38:20 PM »
(As promised...) (Also posted in Gurn's Classical Corner)

A recommended list of works: Antonín Rejcha (1770-1836)

  • Overture in C major, op. 24
  • Quartet for four flutes, op. 27
  • 36 fugues for keyboard, op. 36
  • Symphony in E flat major, op. 41
  • "L'art de varier", 57 variations for keyboard, op. 57
  • 24 trios for three horns, op. 82
  • 6 wind quintets, op. 88
  • Clarinet quintet in B major, op. 89
  • 6 wind quintets, op. 91
  • 6 flute quartets, op. 98
  • 6 wind quintets, op. 99
  • 6 wind quintets, op. 100
  • 6 piano trios, op. 101
  • Flute quintet in A minor, op. 105
  • Horn quintet in E major, op. 106
  • Oboe quintet in F major, op. 107
  • Bassoon quintet in B major
  • Piano quintet in C minor
  • Overture in D major (5/4)
  • Symphony in F minor
  • Piano concerto in E flat major
  • Requiem
  • Der Neue Psalm
  • Te Deum
  • Lenore, cantata

This list is the selection, while the works in bold are "the selection of the selection". Rejcha's music has not been well treated by recording companies; many of these works are just available in versions that could easily be improved in performance as well as in the recording itself.

The most evident "hole" in Rejcha recordings is certainly the one of the string quartets. I've read on the internet some impressions from people who have listened to them, saying that they sounded advanced to their time. I can't say that it is thus, but it's not impossible that Rejcha could have done in string quartets what he did sometimes in other fields (e.g., there are sections of the overture op. 24 that point clearly to Brahms or the late Russian romantics). The other field missing is stage music. Rejcha seems to have acknowledged his opera Sapho as his best work. As far as I know, it hasn't been recorded, even if an almost complete score has survived.

The first approach to Rejcha should be done through the wind quintets and the wind+string quartet quintets. A couple of winners from these sets should be enough to form a sufficient idea: for example, out of the wind quintets, op. 88 n. 5 (B flat major) and op. 91 n. 4 (G minor); out of the wind+string quartet quintets, the flute quintet, the oboe quintet, or the bassoon quintet. The piano trios are wonderful but quite difficult to find. The flute quartets op. 98 are a compendium of formal originality, but they are extremely difficult to find.

Orchestral works haven't been well served by recording companies. The best introduction would be, in spite of being far from ideal, the D+G CD containing the 5/4 overture, the E flat symphony and a sinfonia concertante. The overture op. 24 (a favourite of mine) is, as far as I know, just available from a Czech recording company that has been re-released by a German company and should still be available in JPC (if I'm not mistaken, it includes the E flat major symphony and a wind quintet). Recordings of other symphonies are difficult to find, and I could just add that the recorded symphonies are waiting for an inspirational flair from Chandos and Bamert).

Special mention for the fugues op. 36. As the CPO recording is no longer available, people disliking fortepiano should go for Milan Langer's partial recording in Supraphon. Otherwise, you can head towards Tuma's complete recording. And, finally, among vocal music, I guess Lenore is the starting point.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2009, 11:43:47 PM »
(As promised...) (Also posted in Gurn's Classical Corner)

A recommended list of works: Antonín Rejcha (1770-1836)
[etc]

Is there any reason why you didn't list the Grand quatuor concertant Op. 104? I have it on the disc with the Horn Quintet, and I think that overall, it's the more interesting and ambitious of the two works.
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #18 on: August 23, 2009, 02:57:27 AM »
Is there any reason why you didn't list the Grand quatuor concertant Op. 104? I have it on the disc with the Horn Quintet, and I think that overall, it's the more interesting and ambitious of the two works.

I could have listed it. I like it, but it's not among my favourite Rejcha works. (Perhaps one day, who knows!) ;D

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Reicha's RomperRoom
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2010, 03:10:00 AM »
Reicha listening update

I bought that one because another Reicha fan suggested that as the best place to start. I'm glad to hear such positive feedback on the Clarinet & Bassoon Quintets; I think I'll get that one next.

And I did.

They are both excellent works, and I have to agree with the high assessments they received from our Classical scholars, the "wig-&-knee breeches" crowd as I think of them  ;)

Reicha is somewhat deceptive, and it took me a while to make sense of him. At first listen he sounds an awful lot like Mozart, so the inattentive listener might be tempted to dismiss him as just a pleasant Mozart imitator, which I admit was my first reaction. But the music holds up really well on repeat hearings; construction is tight even over a long span. This Clarinet Quintet may not be quite on the level of Mozart or Brahms, but it's certainly not far behind. And the Bassoon Quintet (why didn't anyone else write for this combo?) is at least as good.
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