Author Topic: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)  (Read 2173 times)

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Offline kyjo

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Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« on: September 20, 2017, 01:12:45 PM »
This definitely seems like a candidate for the "least amount of replies" thread, but here goes ;D

Andreae (1879-1962) was a Swiss composer who is (relatively) better known today as a conductor who led the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich from 1906-1949 and made some noted Bruckner recordings. His music had not come to light until the Swiss label Guild recently started recording it. These recordings have been released with little fanfare, but those who have heard them have nothing but words of praise. Stylistically, Andreae was hardly an advanced composer, and that probably accounts for his neglect over the years. His earlier works are rather Brahmsian (with a hint of Grieg) but still with a stamp of individuality, and gradually his music began to absorb French influences (Faure and impressionism) and the contemporary fin-de-siècle styles of Schreker, Zemlinsky, et al. Like that of Frank Martin, his music epitomizes the mixture of Germanic and French influences in Switzerland.

So far, I have heard both his piano trios, both his symphonies, his Piano Concerto, and his Konzertstuck for piano and orchestra, and they are all pieces of great melodic inspiration and emotion. His First Piano Trio, op. 1, is a highly impressive premiere opus that has Brahmsian influences but with a distinct freshness and textural openness that is quite individual. The melodies will get stuck in your head for days! The Second Piano Trio is a more elusive but powerful work where the influence of Faure is quite apparent. The early, unpublished Symphony in F is notable for its remarkably poignant slow movement. The later Symphony in C is a highly individual work that moves from a dark, chromatic beginning through a powerful funeral march (echoes of Schmidt's Fourth Symphony) to a blazingly triumphant finale. And the Konzertstuck is 15 minutes of late-romantic piano and orchestra bliss. I greatly look forward to exploring the rest of his output!

Most of his modest output has been recorded by Guild, with the exception of his two operas and some of his choral/orchestral music. Marc Andreae, the composer’s grandson, leads excellent recordings of the orchestral works, and equally fine soloists and chamber ensembles are featured as well.  All of these recordings can be accessed on YouTube and Spotify, and I’ll provide some links below:

Symphony in C: https://youtu.be/La5UYLwxpt4

Konzertstuck: https://youtu.be/xVUDsWsAAuU

Piano Trio no. 1 – first movement: https://youtu.be/fDHzOS-Hbm4
Second movement: https://youtu.be/_HWFHH8etD8
Third movement: https://youtu.be/08TG4P_oHeI

Slow movement of Symphony in F: https://youtu.be/bb6ItENp7sM

In short, I cannot understand why Andreae’s music is not better known. It is memorable, highly melodic, and expertly scored. Anyone else familiar with it?
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 06:36:48 PM by kyjo »
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline kyjo

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2017, 06:22:56 PM »
Here are the Guild recordings of Andreae's music, which I highly recommend:

"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2017, 09:09:02 AM »
Can't have you competing with me Kyle for the 'Zero Response Thread Award'  8)
I sampled the Symphony in C which sounded very worth while. The funeral march has a spooky 'Isle of the Dead' feel to it so thanks for posting this.

Coincidentally on the same You Tube page was Saburo Moroi's Third Symphony - a wonderful dark wartime score. I wonder if you know it.
"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 kyjo

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2017, 11:13:36 AM »
Can't have you competing with me Kyle for the 'Zero Response Thread Award'  8)
I sampled the Symphony in C which sounded very worth while. The funeral march has a spooky 'Isle of the Dead' feel to it so thanks for posting this.

Coincidentally on the same You Tube page was Saburo Moroi's Third Symphony - a wonderful dark wartime score. I wonder if you know it.

Thanks so much for replying, Jeffrey ;D Glad you enjoyed the Andreae Symphony in C - it's one of the most succinctly powerful late-romantic symphonies I know at only 28 minutes in length. Given the work's date of composition (1919), I cannot help but wonder if the funeral march second movement is a memorial to the fallen of WWI. Unlike many works written during and directly after the war, however, the symphony has an resolutely upbeat and life-affirming ending which I find very stirring.

No, I don't know the Moroi symphony - thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll put it on my "to-listen" list!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2017, 09:49:15 PM »
Thanks so much for replying, Jeffrey ;D Glad you enjoyed the Andreae Symphony in C - it's one of the most succinctly powerful late-romantic symphonies I know at only 28 minutes in length. Given the work's date of composition (1919), I cannot help but wonder if the funeral march second movement is a memorial to the fallen of WWI. Unlike many works written during and directly after the war, however, the symphony has an resolutely upbeat and life-affirming ending which I find very stirring.

No, I don't know the Moroi symphony - thanks for bringing it to my attention. I'll put it on my "to-listen" list!
I was in contact with a music-loving friend yesterday who rates the Andreae Symphony in C very highly. The CD is a bit pricey at the moment. I see that Andreae was a highly-rated conductor. His set of Bruckner symphonies, recorded in the 50s is available at about £400, which is a bit absurd. However, I just bought an Orfeo CD of him conducting Bruckner's 4th Symphony which I shall look forward to hearing. Yes, you must hear Moroi's Third Symphony Kyle!
"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 kyjo

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2019, 07:22:18 AM »
Great to see that this thread is as lively as ever! :P Here's an Amazon review I wrote of the Guild disc of Andreae's two wonderful piano trios:



I can only echo my fellow reviewer G.D.’s sentiments. This release is absolutely unmissable for lovers of Romantic chamber music. The Swiss composer Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962) is remembered today, if at all, as a conductor, particularly of Bruckner’s music (there are recordings available). But he was also a very worthy composer, and the Swiss recording label Guild - to their great credit - has been releasing recordings of his music with relatively little fanfare. All these recordings are very much worth checking out, and this release of his two piano trios is perhaps the finest of them. I do not exaggerate when I say that I would place these works on par with the finest chamber works of the era by Brahms, Dvořák, and Fauré.

Andreae’s Piano Trio no. 1 in F minor (1901) is his opus 1, and is a remarkably assured work even when disregarding this fact. Unsurprisingly, it is influenced in places by Brahms, Dvorak, and Grieg, but it is far from being slavishly derivative and displays somewhat of an individual voice. More importantly, it is a simply gorgeous work, with bountiful and instantly memorable melodies that follow one after the other in a seamless flow. The first movement opens with a striking main theme in the violin accompanied by a syncopated piano figure and with some interesting harmonic twists. The second theme is more conventional but still beautiful; it’s graceful and balletic in nature. The movement ends with a haunting remembrance of the opening theme. The second movement combines slow movement and scherzo. In the slow outer sections, the violin and cello spin long-breathed melodies over a rocking accompaniment in the piano’s lower register, creating a feeling of great gravitas. This is offset by the rhythmical liveness of the central scherzo. The third movement contains not two, but three gorgeous and memorable themes which come together in grand fashion at the end of the movement – an immensely satisfying moment. This a work that does not try to be terribly complex or original but is beautifully well-written. And, for that reason, it is one of my favorite works of classical music. (Who would’ve thought – an opus 1 by an almost completely unknown Swiss composer?)

The Piano Trio no. 2 in E-flat is laid out in four movements as opposed to the 1st Trio’s three. Written around 1914, it shows Andreae absorbing some new influences, particularly Fauré’s eloquent, sublime proto-impressionism. The Brahmsian “bedrock” of the 1st Trio remains intact but Andreae only uses this as a starting point from which to craft this individual work which really takes the listener on a “journey”. The first movement is noble and rather understated but builds to a dark, weighty climax. The haunting slow movement covers similar emotional ground – confirming that this is a work of “knowing” experience rather than the innocent optimism of the 1st Trio. The scherzo introduces some ebullience but is offset by a withdrawn, almost spectral trio. True joy finally bursts forth in the finale with a triumphant, almost Brucknerian theme that is not easily forgotten. This proves to be an uplifting and truly satisfying conclusion to a work of symphonic scale. While not as instantly lovable as the First Trio (what is?), it is still a deeply involving work which, like the chamber works of Fauré, reveals more subtleties on each listen.

The Locrian Ensemble gives these works the passionate advocacy they truly deserve. Their playing is certainly of a higher caliber than that of some other groups I have encountered who have recorded lesser-known chamber works. I can only hope that these works receive many more recordings and – even more importantly – live performances in the future. It is hard to imagine any audience not reacting positively to this music. These two works unquestionably deserve to be played alongside the great trios of Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Dvořák, Fauré, and Ravel. Unhesitatingly recommended!!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline SymphonicAddict

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2019, 05:02:30 PM »
Thus far I've enjoyed the two symphonies very much, so the piano trios should be right up my alley as well. And a very interesting review, Kyle, btw!

Offline kyjo

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2019, 07:13:16 PM »
Thus far I've enjoyed the two symphonies very much, so the piano trios should be right up my alley as well. And a very interesting review, Kyle, btw!

Thanks, Cesar! I have no doubt that you'd enjoy them, as would Andrei (Florestan).
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2019, 10:20:16 PM »
Right, have earned a bit of extra cash marking (grading) exam scripts I have rewarded myself by ordering the Symphony from 1919 (your fault Kyle  8)) - actually it was quite inexpensive (unlike his box set of the Bruckner symphonies) and I found the sample extracts engaging, notwithstanding the fact that the symphony sounds like it could have been composed fifty years earlier. The extracts reminded me a bit of the Symphony by Tovey which I like very much.
"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 kyjo

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2019, 11:21:42 AM »
Right, have earned a bit of extra cash marking (grading) exam scripts I have rewarded myself by ordering the Symphony from 1919 (your fault Kyle  8)) - actually it was quite inexpensive (unlike his box set of the Bruckner symphonies) and I found the sample extracts engaging, notwithstanding the fact that the symphony sounds like it could have been composed fifty years earlier. The extracts reminded me a bit of the Symphony by Tovey which I like very much.

Excellent, Jeffrey! Glad I was able to fuel your temptation 8) While the symphony is not particularly “advanced” in idiom for 1919, I don’t find it too backward-looking either, with some premonitions of Schmidt’s 4th Symphony (which lay 14 years in the future) in the powerful, funereal slow movement. Please report back once you’ve received the CD!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962)
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2019, 11:57:06 AM »
Excellent, Jeffrey! Glad I was able to fuel your temptation 8) While the symphony is not particularly “advanced” in idiom for 1919, I don’t find it too backward-looking either, with some premonitions of Schmidt’s 4th Symphony (which lay 14 years in the future) in the powerful, funereal slow movement. Please report back once you’ve received the CD!
I certainly will do Kyle!
 :)
"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).