Author Topic: The Krommer Odeon  (Read 3398 times)

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Offline Gabriel

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The Krommer Odeon
« on: July 23, 2007, 03:14:25 PM »
Well, here's a composer of whom there was already a discussion in the ancient GMG forum (http://www.good-music-guide.com/forum/index.php/topic,5132.105.html), but whose works could give more listening pleasure and more interesting discussions.

He's one of the greatest forgotten composers of the late classical style. Perhaps to qualify him as "late classical" could be erroneous in terms of what is generally considered as such. His works are much more "conservative" than Rejcha's, Beethoven's, or Schubert's. His proportions tend to be the ones existing in 1800. And yet, there is a specific flavor in his style that doesn't recall me any of the other great names of the period... excepting Mozart; perhaps there are deeper approaches to be made, but I feel he continued Mozart's excellence in two aspects. First, his melodical ability is astonishing: he is capable of creating melodies or impressive themes out of nothing and developing them wonderfully. Second, his scoring talents; right now I'm listening to his C minor symphony, op. 102, and I am amazed at the diversity and wealth of resources he shows. Méhul, for example, was an acute orchestrator, but in a drier way closer to the French style of that era; Krommer, on the other hand, seems to be bursting with all his possibilities, and eager to show them as a juicy fruit that will captivate the listener. Probably it is caused by his evident attraction towards wind instruments - just like Rejcha -, which is the origin of his multiple wind concertos, which are among the finest in all the classical era.

There is good music which can be difficult to listen, and bad music which can be easy listening. Krommer's music is excellent, and very attractive to approach. Perhaps it is his main fault; there is no great work for musicologists, who try to discover the profound influences of one composer over another to build a history of music (a task which we are to thank deeply, no doubt of it). I guess it could be difficult to trace influences from Krommer to other composers - excepting perhaps Schubert, but I am merely speculating on how the music sounds - unlike the influences from Beethoven (to many), Hummel (to Schubert and Chopin, for example), Cherubini and Rejcha (to the younger French composers). But forgetting the "influence" aspect, what really matters is the quality of the music, and Krommer usually finds something interesting to say. And I usually find something wonderful to listen to.

I will add a comment on a small aspect of a Krommer composition. In the other thread there was a mention to a concerto for two clarinets, if I'm not mistaken. Well, his op. 91 (E flat major) is one of the most delightful wind concertos I know, full of a subtle humour that shows a wonderful comprehension of the sound of the clarinet. As in some classical concertos, the soloists participate in the opening measures (remember Mozart's KV 271 or Beethoven's 4th and 5th piano concertos). But while the dialogue in Mozart's concerto is a statement of the existence of the instrument, in Beethoven's 4th concerto is a lyrical fusion, and in Beethoven's 5th concerto is a display of virtuosity preparing to the structure that follows, Krommer finds a totally different solution. From my point of view, it's a humourous explication of the opposition of two small instruments and a big orchestra. Two seconds after the orchestra suggests the subject, the clarinets begin to 'talk' among themselves and the orchestra, but they are ruthlessly interrupted by the latter by three violent chords, as if saying 'shut up!'. This is repeated immediately once more, and then the orchestra, with the rich Krommer sound, continues the exposition as normally expected. After a couple of minutes, we experience a kind of déjà vu, as the clarinets begin to play almost exactly the same notes that had been censored by the orchestra before; but this time they are obediently followed by the bigger group in their multiple acrobacies, as if the orchestra had said 'you will play the subjects when it should be, that is after we do!'. All in such a charming, brilliant way, that all words are useless to approach the effect. The rest of the movement is brilliantly built, highly entertaining, as well as the rest of the concerto (the third movement begins with the strings alone in pizzicato, something quite strange for works of this period, followed later by the clarinets). Wonderful music that deserves to be better known!

Harry

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2007, 09:26:34 PM »
That's why I bought most of the recordings from him on CPO & MDG.

Offline JoshLilly

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2007, 04:38:29 AM »
If I were to try to concoct a list of my ten favourite composers, I think that I would put Krommer on it. Gabriel said a lot about his music, but I'd also like to point out something else: the endings to his fast movements. Krommer knew how to round things off in fascinating ways, from the powerfully operatic (very end of Op.36 Clarinet Concerto) to the downright bizarre (Symphony #4 Op.102).

I've been trying to think of CD recommendations, and have forced myself to restrict to three:

- Naxos 8.553178, Clarinet Concerti Opp. 35, 36, and 91. Actually, Opp. 35 and 91 are for 2 clarinets. I might suggest this CD first to anyone unfamiliar with Krommer.

- Naxos 8.553498, Partitas for Wind Ensemble. I don't usually care much for music for pure winds, but this CD gets an almost obsessive amount of playtime with me. Again, with Naxos, the price isn't a killer. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best music for wind ensemble ever written (that I've heard so far).

- Chandos, Symphonies Opp. 40 and 102. As far as can be told, these are Krommer's 2nd and 4th symphonies. At least one of his supposed nine is known and lost (#7, I think it was). #1 has been recorded once or twice on LP, and a few of his symphonies are performed live by orchestras now and then, but as far as I know, this is currently the only available recording of any Krommer symphonies on CD. You have to go forward a number of years to find a symphony as ... schizophrenic as Krommer's Op.102. The key is always given as "C minor", but that's a meaningless label here, as by the time the last movement finishes, it's been all over the place; the finale is about as weird as you'll find prior to Berlioz's more adventurous works, almost ranking up there with the offbeat experimentations of Reicha. I love both of these symphonies, and can't wait to hear more. This CD is in the Contemporaries of Mozart label, so at the least you know it's a fantastic performance from the orchestra!

Offline Gabriel

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2007, 05:09:55 PM »
In fact, Krommer's C minor symphony is a strange work. In the movement you comment, Josh, there is a very uneasy concertante feeling between the woodwinds and the rest of the orchestra, an aspect that is present in other movements (I think of the macabre Allegretto, this symphony's scherzo).

I also feel a Brahmsian flavour in the introductory Largo of the first movement, which is resolved in the most cruel way: after the orchestra seems to have been calmed down, the flute repeats the same figure that had been played by the low strings, but instead of driving towards a logical sequence to the Allegro vivace, Krommer decides to annihilate the efforts of the flute with a violent chord that would seem totally out of place if there hadn't been similar episodes in the introduction.

For operatic-flavoured works, I can't resist to remember the delightful Oboe Concerto in F major, op. 52. It is one of the most beautiful works I've listened to for this repertoire (of this era, I think of Mozart and Lebrun, and I prefer this concerto to any of the other composers' works), showing Krommer's melodic excellence at its best. The central Adagio is simply wonderful; you listen to the oboe as if it were singing one of Mozart's great opera arias. Yes, singing, not playing. And you get the bonus of Krommer's sumptuous scoring as accompainment to such a quasi-vocal delight.


snyprrr

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2009, 07:38:13 PM »
I was intrigued by this composer, and now I am sold.

Coming out in June is a cd of Krommer SQs...

Op.19 No.2 in F major

Op.74 No.3 in d minor

Op.103 No.3 in a minor

I believe there is only one other cd of SQs so far on the market. Maybe another? However, judging by the above praise, later minor key works from Krommer sound like just what I may have been looking for.

Offline Gabriel

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2009, 09:40:58 AM »
I was intrigued by this composer, and now I am sold.

Coming out in June is a cd of Krommer SQs...

Op.19 No.2 in F major

Op.74 No.3 in d minor

Op.103 No.3 in a minor

I believe there is only one other cd of SQs so far on the market. Maybe another? However, judging by the above praise, later minor key works from Krommer sound like just what I may have been looking for.

Krommer has been one of the most favoured composers in Gurn's Classical Corner, including some comments on his string quartets and, in particular, on the CD you are mentioning.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2009, 05:21:37 AM »
Well, surprised that this Krommer thread is not getting much attention - most of the discs that I own of his music were posted on the 'old forum' thread (linked in Gabriel's OP), but I just received the CD below:

Amphion Wind Octet w/ period instruments; wonderfully played and recorded - includes Paritas Op. 73, 78, & 83 + Parthia ex Dis; also own a couple of Naxos discs of these works, but just one duplication.  :)

 

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2009, 08:32:21 AM »
Surprised at the little interest in this prolific and extremely 'windy' composer; I now own about a dozen discs of his works and was curious as to 'how many' he indeed wrote?  :)

Thus, I was checking out a Wiki Article HERE on him and several listings of his compositions are available:

Opus Numbers:  110 opus numbers + some non-opus works listed; however, many of these individual opus listings have multiple works, so does not reflect his overall output of music.

Padrta Thematic Catalog - published by Karel Padrta; the works are categorized into 20 groups, listed as P + Roman group number: + Work - see example of the second symphony below or checkout the Wiki article, if interested.

By my calculation, there are nearly 400 works by Krommer, an amazing output w/ the majority being chamber and wind pieces; so little has been recorded -  :-\

***************************************************************

Karel Padrta - Franz Krommer Thematic Catalog (1997):

Symphonies (12) - P I: (e.g. P I:2 - Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 40)

Concertos (30) - P II: & P III: (Violin or Wind instruments)

Wind Ensemble (51) - P IV: (Partitas, Serenades, et al)

Marches & Dances (12) - P V: (Marches - several lost)

String Quintets (35) - P VI: (String Quintets)

Quintets w/ Wind Instruments (17) - P VII: (Flute or oboe usually)

String Quartets (78) - P VIII: (String Quartets)

Quartets w/ Wind/KB Instruments (26) - P IX: & P X: (variety of winds)

Trio Sonatas (Eight) - P XI: & P XII: (Strings, Winds, or Piano)

Duo Sonatas (65) - P XIV: & P XV: (Violins or Flutes)

Violin Sonatas (9) - P XVI: (w/ Bass or Viola)

Keyboard Works (42) - P XVII: & P XVIII: (many types)

Sacred Works (Eight) - P XIX: & P XX:

*****************************************************************

snyprrr

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Re: The Krommer Odeon
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2010, 07:50:04 PM »
Well, after a year of starting the "pre-1800" project, I finish up with the Krommer SQ disc. I feel like an old hand at this now, haha, but I love hearing a new composer like this, to compare. And, everyone had been raving about the late, 1820, a-minor SQ.

The liner notes recall the Beethoven incident, and, listening to this cd, one can see why LvB might be envious. I'll admit that I haven't yet heard the gravitas in the a-minor, or even any bizarre or quirky things beyond the pale. Perhaps it is more advanced than Op.18, but it is no 40min epic. There is, however, a nice take on the 'witch's menuet' which gets the nod. That's one foolproof way to get one's attention@!

The d-minor (1808 or earlier) exhibits the bridging traits of Haydn, Mozart, and LvB, all wrapped up. Again, we'd put it in the Op.18-type category, though, without the immediate pop appeal of LvB's c-minor. Compares should be interesting.

My fav here was the F-Major from 1800, which compares quite favorably with Op.18. It has the same amount of pop appeal (obviously cool melodies), and has the same 'young man making his way' type invigorating rhythm. I'd compare it to the A-Major and Bb-Major of Op.18, that same kind of rustic quality. In the first mvmt, two quietly introductory measures give way to a cute little hollerin' 'giddy-up' note with a nasal twang. Garaunteed to put a smile on your face!



I have to admit that, Krommer's top notch reputation aside, I did not find an overwhelming masterpiece here (like maybe I did with Eybler). However, I do not recall an album of this kind that was so perfectly listenable from front to back. Ultimately, it's a catchy little thing, not in the themes per se, but in the infectous vigor that these pieces are played with. I have a feeling I'm going to have to wear into this one.

I've now got a good handful of these SQ discs that have proven a bit more elusive than Haydn (even him, in Op.50). These are pieces one might be listening for quite some time before one may click with the piece. I look forward to not buying, but listening.

BOTTOM LINE: There's just enough here to prompt compares with LvB. I might not use the word 'just'.