Author Topic: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)  (Read 4813 times)

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Offline Klaze

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Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« on: September 13, 2011, 01:29:24 PM »
After having listened to a lot of Dutch music lately, for me a "Mighty Three" have emerged; Badings, Escher, and Vermeulen. I feel that these three composers are the most individual ones from the mid 20th century and are definitely worth exploring.  However, I saw that Rudolf Escher did not have his own thread!, while a hack like Rontgen does  ;) (I actually like Rontgen). This needed to be remedied.

Escher is influenced heavily by the French, perhaps Ravel in particular. There's a piece for small ensemble; "Le Tombeau de Ravel", a section from a "Sinfonia in memoriam Maurice Ravel", and a Gaspard-like piano Suite, "Arcana" . He also orchestrated Debussy's "Six epigraphes antiques". His (later) work is characterized by a polymelodic style, a bit like Vermeulen, and it is very expressive, often elegiac and with a great pulse or flow. However, there is also very little repitition within his works, which made them somewhat difficult for me to get a grip on initially. He has written mostly chamber works and although there are two symphonies, they are not among his best works, but I still enjoy them quite a lot. His output is quite small in quantity, but very high in quality i think. See also the Wikipedia entry for a nearly complete list of works. One quote from Leo Samama, Dutch musicologist, shown in that entry:

Quote
Together with the Sinfonia per dieci strumenti (1973/75), the Flute sonata (1976/79]] and the Trio for clarinet, viola and piano (1978/79), the Wind Quintet belongs to the works of a master - one of the few our country has known -, of an artist that has developed such a personal language, a personal grammar, a personal sound, that every statement about French or German influences, about old or new music, about place and time are futile and meaningless.

Like for more Dutch composers, getting their stuff isn't always that easy (Badings and Rontgen are at least served well by CPO), even Youtube is fairly Escher-free, so I've tried to upload two works to Megaupload if anyone is interested. The "Sonata concertante" is a very expressive wartime piece, the "Sinfonia per dieci strumenti" is one of his greatest (and one of his last) works.

1976 Sinfonia per dieci instrumenti:

I. Ritmo teso in tempo moderato
II. Passagio
III. Lento
IV. Vivo e leggiero

1943 Sonata concertante for cello and piano

I. Allegro agitato
II. Largo
III. Lento - Allegrissimo

EDIT: When I test those links, the files are unavailable? hmmm...

Another great wartime work, Musique pour l'esprit en deuil, can be heard  here

I think I have most of his recorded instrumental works covered, so if there are any requests, let me know.

Anyway, are there any other Escher-fans around here?
« Last Edit: September 13, 2011, 01:32:06 PM by Klaze »

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 02:53:50 PM »
I too admire what I have heard of Rudolf Escher :)

Not that that amounts to very much though, I have to admit.

I have 'Musique pour l'esprit en deuil', 'Hymne du Grand Meaulnes' and Passacaglia for Orchestra in my collection. Not necessarily easy music to assimilate but worth the effort.

I would certainly be interested in hearing the two symphonies.

Vermeulen is a strange composer-as indeed he was a strange man.....but that's another story ;D

I am very glad that CPO has now embarked on a cycle of Henk Badings whose music impresses me more and more with further acquaintance. I just wish that CPO would give a fraction of the attention they are devoting to the music of Julius Rontgen to a composer like Leon Orthel. Rontgen's music is eminently pleasant, sometimes even delightful but there is just SO MUCH of it ;D

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 03:20:17 PM »
Interesting that Badings was born in Batavia and that Escher's family moved there when he was four years old.

Offline lescamil

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 06:31:35 PM »
A work I have always loved is Escher's Arcana Suite for piano. It is a pianist's dream work, containing a variety of moods, textures, pianistic configurations, harmonies, etc. It is a terribly difficult 4 movement work that would make a worthy addition to any recital program, should an adventurous and gifted pianist take it up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFve2mmGsMo
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Offline Klaze

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2011, 11:22:17 AM »
I too admire what I have heard of Rudolf Escher :)

Not that that amounts to very much though, I have to admit.

I have 'Musique pour l'esprit en deuil', 'Hymne du Grand Meaulnes' and Passacaglia for Orchestra in my collection. Not necessarily easy music to assimilate but worth the effort.

I would certainly be interested in hearing the two symphonies.

Good to hear!

I have uploaded the three movements of Symphony 1, a fine work in my opinion:

I. Allegro assai e cantabile

II. Adagio poco maestoso

III. Presto leggiero e scorrevole


And Symphony 2 I have previously recorded from an old 2nd hand vinyl. One warning; the recording volume was too loud for this particular disc (I recorded a batch on the same day), so the sound suffers, and your ears too, in some passages. I'll redo the recording sometime, but if you're really curious:

Escher - Symphony 2

Having relistened to it, I find it actually quite an enjoyable work, just not sure about that slow movement. Apparently, he was in a bit of an artistic crisis during the time he wrote this work, reflecting on its quality.

It seems that the MegaUpload links of my opening post still very often give the "temporarily unavailable" notice, but can I do anything about that? Is there a better service for uploads?
If so, please let me know


Quote
Vermeulen is a strange composer-as indeed he was a strange man.....but that's another story ;D

I am very glad that CPO has now embarked on a cycle of Henk Badings whose music impresses me more and more with further acquaintance. I just wish that CPO would give a fraction of the attention they are devoting to the music of Julius Rontgen to a composer like Leon Orthel. Rontgen's music is eminently pleasant, sometimes even delightful but there is just SO MUCH of it ;D

About Vermeulen, yes, and Escher and him were generally on good terms, but would also criticize each other's works. For example, if i recall correctly, Escher thought Vermeulen did not always pay enough attention to harmony. In any case, I find the work of both very individual and intense, but in different ways

What I have heard so far from Orthel sounds very good, especially the Scherzo #2 and the second Symphony. I don't have the impression that the current state of affairs in the record industry are ideal for these kind of projects unfortunately :(

Totally off-topic, seeing your avatar; I recently acquired the Rubbra symphony set, and having listened to that first disc, I'm greatly anticipating the next ones  ;D
« Last Edit: September 14, 2011, 11:56:32 AM by Klaze »

Offline Klaze

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2011, 11:28:35 AM »
A work I have always loved is Escher's Arcana Suite for piano. It is a pianist's dream work, containing a variety of moods, textures, pianistic configurations, harmonies, etc. It is a terribly difficult 4 movement work that would make a worthy addition to any recital program, should an adventurous and gifted pianist take it up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFve2mmGsMo

I agree wholeheartedly. Im determined to acquire that performance by Brautigam one day. Now I only have Sepp Grotenhuis' recording on a disc that features Escher's complete Piano Works, of which Arcana is by far the best piece. However, the Sonata and Sonatina are also highly enjoyable.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2011, 04:28:35 PM »
Thank you so much for the two Escher symphonies :)

The download worked fine although I usually find that uploading to Mediafire works best.

Hope you enjoy the music of Edmund Rubbra-along with Vaughan Williams probably my favourite composer :)

Offline lescamil

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2011, 04:45:14 PM »
I agree wholeheartedly. Im determined to acquire that performance by Brautigam one day. Now I only have Sepp Grotenhuis' recording on a disc that features Escher's complete Piano Works, of which Arcana is by far the best piece. However, the Sonata and Sonatina are also highly enjoyable.

Do get the Brautigam performance someday. It is much better than Grotenhuis's rather safe and pedestrian performance of the work. The whole Brautigam disk is worth getting.
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Offline snyprrr

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 12:28:23 PM »
Not much available... flute,... violin,... piano,... pieces endlessly rotating on HOW many cds? ???
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Offline Klaze

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 02:36:00 PM »
I don't know, not THAT much...?

His oeuvre is quite small yes, and some duplication is unavoidable.
There are indeed quite a lot of CDs featuring the Sonata Concertante (Cello Sonata) and Flute sonata around...

Currently I got 17 CDs with at least one piece by Escher, together with 2 LPs I think this covers at least one performance of every Escher piece commercially recorded?

If you're looking for something in particular, you can let me know..
« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 02:39:00 PM by Klaze »

Offline The new erato

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 12:18:11 AM »
And this, which I've recommended on a couple on occasions:



And, BTW, Badings isn't that well served by cpo. There were two discs of symphonies, and then the series stopped, last release were between 2 and 3 years ago if I'm to trust my impressions. What a crying shame.

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 04:34:18 AM »
what I've neard by Escher is truly splendid.

Hymne du Grand Meaulnes is propably the work that I cherish most. 
The symphonies should be available in new recordings...

Peter

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2012, 07:50:19 AM »
I don't know, not THAT much...?

His oeuvre is quite small yes, and some duplication is unavoidable.
There are indeed quite a lot of CDs featuring the Sonata Concertante (Cello Sonata) and Flute sonata around...

Currently I got 17 CDs with at least one piece by Escher, together with 2 LPs I think this covers at least one performance of every Escher piece commercially recorded?

If you're looking for something in particular, you can let me know..

I actually have his Wind Quintet on a giant box, 'A Dutch Miracle'. I'll listen again today.

Yea, the violin and flute works seem to be where to go here. That cd 'erato' shows seems the place to start?
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Offline Klaze

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2012, 01:17:16 PM »
I actually have his Wind Quintet on a giant box, 'A Dutch Miracle'. I'll listen again today.

Nice! I only have it on vinyl (yet), but I might snap up that box some day...

Quote
Yea, the violin and flute works seem to be where to go here. That cd 'erato' shows seems the place to start?

Wellll....it's a very nice CD, but i think Pijper is quite a bit less inspired on the whole than Escher.
Also, I would not count the Violin Sonata among the very best of Escher's output, although it is a strong piece.

If you really would like to hear the Violin Sonata, and more Escher, I can also wholeheartedly recommend this CD, which gives you in addition the Sonata Concertante (Cello & Piano) and his best solo piano work, Arcana:



For the Flute Sonata, you have quite a lot of options as an Amazon search will reveal. But I quite like this CD for the nice couplings:



...but it's expensive, at least on amazon.com

There are also 2 discs of Chamber Music discs on Ottavo, covering his complete chamber music, but, although I have not done extensive comparative listenings yet, I think other performances are preferable in some instances. But some stuff is not easily available otherwise.

I also like this CD with the Tombeau de Ravel for a small ensemble including harpsichord, the String Trio, and a Trio for clarinet, viola and piano, all very much worth anyone's time (in my opinion ;))


Offline snyprrr

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2012, 09:27:27 PM »
Nice! I only have it on vinyl (yet), but I might snap up that box some day...

Wellll....it's a very nice CD, but i think Pijper is quite a bit less inspired on the whole than Escher.
Also, I would not count the Violin Sonata among the very best of Escher's output, although it is a strong piece.

If you really would like to hear the Violin Sonata, and more Escher, I can also wholeheartedly recommend this CD, which gives you in addition the Sonata Concertante (Cello & Piano) and his best solo piano work, Arcana:



For the Flute Sonata, you have quite a lot of options as an Amazon search will reveal. But I quite like this CD for the nice couplings:



...but it's expensive, at least on amazon.com

There are also 2 discs of Chamber Music discs on Ottavo, covering his complete chamber music, but, although I have not done extensive comparative listenings yet, I think other performances are preferable in some instances. But some stuff is not easily available otherwise.

I also like this CD with the Tombeau de Ravel for a small ensemble including harpsichord, the String Trio, and a Trio for clarinet, viola and piano, all very much worth anyone's time (in my opinion ;))



That last one looks promising.

Yes, his discography is... curious, but, not too hard to get a grip on. Still need to hear the Wind Quintet. I think Badings has a WQ I'd like to hear...
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2012, 03:29:44 PM »
Listening again-for the first time for ages-to the Escher Symphony No.1 (someone requested that I upload a recording).

What a magnificent work it is :)

CPO: give up on recording endless symphonies by Julius Rontgen....and even van Gilse....or repeating recordings of Hendrik Andriessen :o  Get back to Badings....AND record the Escher and Leon Orthel. That is a DEMAND!

Offline Klaze

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2012, 02:42:48 AM »
I agree, even though the symphonies are not where it's at for Escher, I enjoy them both a lot.

On a similar note, it also baffles me why in the past Chandos chose to record Hol, Voormolen, Dopper, etc...when there was so much better stuff to put on disc! Luckily there was one Vermeulen disc...

It's also just bad advertising...: There was an item on classical music in a popular Dutch television show. One famous TV personality, who is also into classical music, was invited and he and the show host started talking about Dutch classical music. To demonstrate just how bad Dutch composers are, they juxtaposed a soundbite of the Rite of Spring with some drab piece by Dopper or van Gilse, and of course everyone agreed: wow, "we" suck. While they also could have blasted some Vermeulen. This really got to me.

Oh and one of the CPO van Gilse discs annoyed me so much, that I sold it again.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2012, 03:26:32 AM by Klaze »

Offline The new erato

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2012, 03:05:32 AM »


Oh and one of the CPO van Gilse discs annoyed me so much, that I sold it again.
I bought the first disc in the series and disliked it strongly.

Offline snyprrr

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2014, 09:09:07 AM »
bump
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Rudolf Escher (1912-1980)
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2014, 08:28:17 PM »
Looks like the Arcana suite video I linked is now dead. I'm thinking of uploading a video with the score to YouTube. Could be fun to make another one of those again.
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