Author Topic: Bernard van Dieren  (Read 9861 times)

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Offline Dax

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Bernard van Dieren
« on: August 23, 2009, 12:56:30 AM »
Vandermolen's initiation of a Peter Warlock thread indicates that the time may be right for Bernard van Dieren. There seems to have been no reference to him on these boards - or none that I can find.

Here is an old and regrettably defective (though listenable) recording of his Chinese Symphony preceded by an introduction by the conductor Myer Fredman.

http://sendspace.com/file/car524
http://sendspace.com/file/j0xkbg

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 03:49:14 AM »
Many thanks for posting this - I have long been curious about Van Dieren and his Chinese Symphony - I shall look forward to hearing this in due course.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2009, 08:51:15 AM »
I listened to Van Dieren's 'Cinese Symphony' with great interest although it cut out about 2/3rds of the way through.  It is very Mahlerian but has a haunting quality which kept my attention - well deserving of a decent new recording. Apparently the 5th of his 6 string quartets is a masterpiece and he was the live model for Jacob Epstein's sculpture of Christ.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2009, 08:53:43 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Dax

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 11:54:08 PM »
it cut out about 2/3rds of the way through

Sorry about that! Lets try again.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/q7l5vj

The performance is by the BBC Northern Singers and BBC Northern Orchestra conducted by Myer Fredman 14/1/73.

And here are some comments I made about the work on the old r3ok board

The Chinese Symphony is about 35' in 8 continuous movements. 5 vocal soloists, chorus and (not large) orchestra. Text from Chinese poems translated into German by Hans Bethge. Written at a time when Van Dieren's style/language was unsettled. Generally the work inhabits a twilight zone between tonality + atonality, but there is a mixture of styles on show, within as well as between movements - strangely enough, this isn't bothersome.
I imagine some would find a problem with the generally "aimless" quality - there is a distinct lack of drama and decisive cadences or resolution of any sort. There are many instances of unsubtle major 9th chords (the whole work ends on one), although not to the extent found in the early Elegy for cello + orchestra or the later more tonal songs. The 4th is much in evidence as a harmonic component, especially in the 6th movement - originally a song with piano entitled "Die Trennung". The counterpoint is incessant but the scoring is economical, transparent even. The instrumental writing seems well-judged (especially that of the strings, but also in passages involving solo horn or bass clarinet), but there is no attempt at colourful attraction, grandiose gestures and only a couple of biggish climaxes. No orientalism here! Flutes are often low-pitched and harp-writing rather unlikely-looking, but neither seem to suffer. The choral writing is sometimes reminiscent of Delius and certain instrumental moments are surprisingly Ivesian. But there's little to link Van Dieren with Schoenberg beyond an untypically impassioned passage near the end of the second movement, and the "chamber-music scoring" associated with both composers seems no more than coincidence. There's nothing much Germanic about the music - but neither is there much echo of composers (such as Berlioz and Busoni) whose influence one could reasonably expect.

The performance I have is the one conducted by Myer Fredman in 1973. (Earlier performances were undertaken by Constant Lambert in 1935 + 1937 - and there was a Holland Festival performance in 1983). The solo voices were pretty ropey some of the time - they have little support regarding pitching from the accompanying instruments (unlike the chorus which does) and there's quite a bit of mispitching and defensive wobble. The vocal lines can sound contrived as a result and the rather opaque rhythm (often the old criticism) which in reality is less of a problem than is suggested by the score, is more pronounced when solo voices are present.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2009, 12:03:12 AM by Dax »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2009, 01:42:44 AM »
Thank you for the interesting analysis-I shall try to listen to the last part.  On the basis of this I have just ordered a CD with his 6th String quartet on - was delighted to find this.  Van Dieren was friends with Epstein, the sculptor. In his autobiography, Epstein says that he regards the Van Dieren string quartets as the equal of the late quartets of Beethoven.

Here is another link:

http://www.bardic-music.com/vanDieren.htm

Below is a bust of Van Dieren in Rotterdam.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2009, 01:45:49 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2009, 02:30:08 AM »
I have now listened to all parts of the Chinese Symphony - other than Mahler, other composers came to mind - Szymanowski, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg - but this is a work of considerably originality with a very haunting atmosphere.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Dax

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2009, 04:41:50 AM »
Here's Van Dieren's op. 1, the Elegy for cello + orchestra

http://www.sendspace.com/file/sev5u8

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2009, 09:25:57 AM »
Here's Van Dieren's op. 1, the Elegy for cello + orchestra

http://www.sendspace.com/file/sev5u8

Thanks, I enjoyed this work.  It is rather Delian in places and, like the Chinese Symphony, has a haunting quality to it - an intereesting discovery.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline offbeat

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2009, 12:58:54 PM »
Re Chinese Symphony - yes thks from me too Dax
played tonight and find its sort of mixture of many of my favourite composers especially Delius  :)

Offline Dax

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2009, 02:57:19 PM »
Thanks, chaps! I wonder what you'll make of the 1st string quartet (1912), written in quite a different + more experimental "style". A continuous 38 minutes. Extraordinary for the time. Not much Delius here. Difficult to pinpoint the ancestry. Oh yes, it quotes 3 Paganini Caprices . . . This is the Gabrieli Quartet recorded in the 1970s, I don't know if any other quartet has ever played it.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/4xmqje

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2009, 01:59:24 AM »
Thanks, chaps! I wonder what you'll make of the 1st string quartet (1912), written in quite a different + more experimental "style". A continuous 38 minutes. Extraordinary for the time. Not much Delius here. Difficult to pinpoint the ancestry. Oh yes, it quotes 3 Paganini Caprices . . . This is the Gabrieli Quartet recorded in the 1970s, I don't know if any other quartet has ever played it.

http://www.sendspace.com/file/4xmqje

Well Dax, you're certainly keeping us busy with Van Dieren - I now have to schedule an hour each day into my work and home schedule as a 'Van Dieren listening hour' ( ;D). When my wife ask asks me (as she often does) to get on with some onerous domestic chore, I am now able to reply "Absolutely impossible - I am listening to the music of Bernard Van Dieren" (she is very understanding  ::)).

Seriously, I liked SQ No 1 - like a lyrical English Schoenberg of the early period - as with all the other works my attention was gripped throughout - he has a lot to say and this is thought-provoking and searching music - not entirely like anyone else.  I shall report back when I get SQ No 6.

This is what his friend Epstein had to say about him:

One of his periodical lying-up which sometimes lasted months on end.  I was only visiting him, but as we talked, the desire came over me to work from him.  I hurried home and collected some clay in a bucket and came back.  I made a mask.  The mask was filled with suffering, but it was so noble and had such a high quality of intellectual life, I thought of him as a suffering Christ, and developed the mask into a head, then into a bust with arms, and extended it again, and so made my first image of Christ in bronze

I made a third study from Van Dieren in 1936, about a year before he died.  He was very ill, and by turns hot and cold, and very faint, and yet he had a noble emperor's air which is in the bust.  There is bitterness in the head, frustration.  A genius neglected, misunderstood. One whose work will have to wait in the welter of vulgarity, noise and opportunism, before it comes to be understood, for qualities that our age does not care for.

I think of his quartets, and can only compare them to Beethoven's posthumous quartets.  Not that they are influenced in any way, but that they contain a similar quality of pain, so intense, so beautiful in expression, that in our own period they are unique.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2009, 02:01:59 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2016, 05:04:31 AM »
According to his Wikipedia entry,Lyrita are recording Bernard Van Dieren's Chinese Symphony for an October 2016 release (Scroll to bottom of Biography).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_van_Dieren

cilgwyn

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2016, 08:53:22 AM »
I think I will order this one when it's released. I've been curious about this,rather elusive composer,for years;ever since reading an article about him in an old s/h Pelican Paperback. The files I've heard via various forums,including the AMF,haven't helped. Lousy sound! ??? :( There is an interview on the Arnold Bax website in which Myer Fredman expresses muted enthusiasm ("...has some beautiful sections,some rather turgid passages") and he only conducted the studio performance!! The mention of Havergal Brian piques my interest a little further,however!
Lyrita are also releasing Grace Williams 'Missa Cambrensis',too;before that one,I believe (August 2016,according to Gramophone Magazine). So good on them! Interesting releases are so few and far between,these days.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2016, 10:43:38 PM »
According to his Wikipedia entry,Lyrita are recording Bernard Van Dieren's Chinese Symphony for an October 2016 release (Scroll to bottom of Biography).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_van_Dieren

More of my money gone. Thanks for letting us know.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2016, 08:51:42 AM »
Bernard Van Dieren's Chinese Symphony,coupled with two other works,is now availablt for pre-order on Amazon. The release date is scheduled for November 18th. Nice artwork imho. It will look nice on my hi-fi unit;even if the music doesn't live up to any expectations,that one might have.
I was interested to read just now,that this recording came about as a result of a bequest some years ago. The stipulation was that the money could only be used for a recording of the Chinese Symphony. I have also read on a blog about Itter's death,and subsequent funeral,that certain people "in the know" believed that it wasn't worth recording!
Well we can decide for ourselves soon,can't we?!! :-\ :) I like musical puzzles so I'm looking forward to this release. I can also remember being given one of those so called chinese puzzles for Christmas,and finding it very,erm........puzzling......and ultimately frustrating! Will Bernard Van Dieren's Chinese Symphony just turn out to be another chinese puzzle....soon to be disposed of and forgotten?!

Thank goodness for toy space guns!!! ;D

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bernard-van-Dieren-Chinese-Symphony/dp/B01KKE6JAU/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1471628191&sr=1-1&keywords=lyrita


Offline Christo

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2016, 10:19:46 AM »
There's another recording - a radio broadcast from 1983, made in Amsterdam - with less tape hiss than the one by conductor Myer Friedman that was posted here before. For those of us who can't wait for the CD smuggling of the Lyrita CD of September   ;)

Huub Kerstens conducting  the Amsterdam University Chorus and Amsterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/DnuOCh6Lf0g" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/DnuOCh6Lf0g</a>
… music is not only an 'entertainment’, nor a mere luxury, but a necessity of the spiritual if not of the physical life, an opening of those magic casements through which we can catch a glimpse of that country where ultimate reality will be found.    RVW, 1948

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2016, 10:21:25 AM »
Just pre-ordered the Lyrita - very interesting looking release.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2016, 10:22:18 AM »
Just pre-ordered the Lyrita - very interesting looking release.
Will need to be smuggled into the house in November.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

cilgwyn

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2016, 02:33:33 PM »
Bernard Van Dieren's Chinese Symphony.........in cd form.on my shelf! I can't wait!! ??? 8) 8)

cilgwyn

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Re: Bernard van Dieren
« Reply #19 on: October 13, 2016, 04:07:05 AM »
I've ordered my copy of the new Lyrita cd of Bernard van Dieren's Chinese Symphony (etc) from Musicweb. It's cheaper than Amazon,if you buy it there. I ordered it yesterday and I received an email from Musicweb informing me that Nimbus will be sending it out today. Dundonnell,who used to post here,and now posts at the Art Music Forum,has received his from Musicweb,already! (This despite the release date on Amazon and some other sites!) :





Here's the Musicweb review:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2016/Oct/Dieren_sy_SRCD357.htm