Author Topic: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)  (Read 6020 times)

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pjme

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Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« on: October 04, 2007, 12:52:17 PM »
Just recently, the Lodewijk De Vocht Foundation issued a (non commercial) CD with some substantial works. De Vocht is (or was) well known in Belgium, the Netherlands - even France, for his pioneering work as choral/orchestral conductor . Already as a teenager he showed great talent, he sang in the Antwerp Cathedral choir,studied at the  Antwerp Conservatory,played the violin in an orchestra that was conducted (during their tours) by Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, Hans Richter and Felix Weingartner....



As leader of the Chorale Caecilia he became really famous with annual performances of Bach's St Matthew Passion and (premiere) performances of works by Respighi, Stravinsky, Milhaud ( l'Orestie - finale of Les Eumenides) and Honegger (Jeanne d'Arc au bucher).

As a composer, he remained a passionate Romantic throughout his long carreer.

On the disc one finds :

a lovely Pastoral concerto for recorder & strings ( 1957) - 4 short movements ( 16 mins in total)
a short & elegant Serenade for cello and strings (1931 - 4.30 mins)
and 4 symphonic poems :
the very early (1906- age 18) "Morning mood" - this isn't yet very personal, but extremely assured for such a young man. Rich melodies, brillant orchestration, notated with great technical care.
"Awakening" (1907-1908) - De Vocht calls it a symphony in one movement....More youthfull & romantic effusions. It's quite turbulent, and at 15 mins does not outstay its welcome....
"In exile" (1914 - formerly "Prayer for the nation") This is an ambitious effort. De Vocht fled to The Netherlands, and inspired (shocked) by the misery of War, wrote this ( ca 10 mins.) prayer. A big arch in sumptuous colours.
"Wood magic" (1924) - by this time De Vocht had discovered Debussy and Ravel, met Stravinsky and Respighi....There is ( slight) change in style.I'll call it Flemish Impressionism : less romantic drama /passionate melody, but still lots of colour and rythmic vitality .

Performers : The Belgian CH.O / Rudolf Werthen with Koen Dieltiens, recorder and Rigo Messens, cello (1981 rec;)
THe BRT Philharmonic orch. / Fernand Terby (1987 rec.)


De Vocht has a knack for sumptuous outpourings of rich material : everything sings - like "Nature".

Anyway, he didn't write that many orchestral scores ( there's a Choral Symphony from 1932-1935 -wordless chorus & large orch), a cantata Primavera...) but many songs, choruses and religious works "for daily "use.

For those who like mellifluous, consonant, "gorgeous" music : do give it a try!
PM me for the (private) address in Antwerp where you can buy the CD ( 10€ + postage)

« Last Edit: October 04, 2007, 01:14:06 PM by pjme »

pjme

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2008, 03:02:44 PM »
The Lodewijk De Vocht Foundation is working hard... A twofer has been issued with - afaik - more-or-less historic performances of the 1935 Choral Symphony ( ca 30 mins. for wordless chorus & large orchestra). Possibly De Vocht's magnum opus.
A sturdy Te Deum, an easter Alleluia and the late ( ca1965) cantata "Primavera" for soli, chorus & orchestra.

Late Romantic,tonal music - very lyrical and full of gorgeous sweeping melodies....

I'll keep you informed as soon as I receive the discs.

Peter

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2008, 03:58:22 AM »
Thanks, Peter, very interesting!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2008, 05:13:41 AM »
Thanks very much indeed! I'm afraid I only know his Morning mood - have to look on my Flemish composers shelve if I have some more.   ::)

Everything you write looks very interesting to me, so please keep us informed!
… 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

pjme

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2008, 05:56:52 AM »
Thanks for the reactions.
De Vocht's music is "vitalistic",tonal, broadly lyrical ( with a good dose of ( religious...) sentimentality) and  - in the symphony - some pomp. His conducting career prevented him - I suppose- from composing more. And throughout his life he wrote lots of choral music for amateurs and/or daily church use.

The Cd's haven't arrived yet - more next week.

Peter


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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2008, 06:26:04 AM »
"tonal, broadly lyrical...with some pomp"

Sounds exactly my kind of music ;D ;D

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2008, 03:41:41 AM »
The only piece by Lodewijk De Vocht I have, is the Cello Concerto (1955) in this CD, reviewed here with gusto  ;) by David Hurwitz:

                      
« Last Edit: December 14, 2008, 07:15:29 AM by Christo »
… 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 Dundonnell

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2008, 07:17:54 AM »
The only piece by Lodewijk De Vocht I have, is the Cello Concerto (1955) in this CD, reviewed here with gusto  ;) by David Hurwitz:

                      


Is this one of these Dutch jokes which escapes me, Johan? Hurwitz describes the De Vocht Cello Concerto as achieving only "facile superficiality".
If that is an example of Hurwitz's enthusiasm I fear for music he dislikes ;D

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2008, 07:44:38 AM »
Is this one of these Dutch jokes which escapes me, Johan? Hurwitz describes the De Vocht Cello Concerto as achieving only "facile superficiality". If that is an example of Hurwitz's enthusiasm I fear for music he dislikes ;D

Well, yes indeed, we all know Hurwitz, isn't it?  ;) I was just hoping to invite you to read his verdict.  ;)

At this moment, I'm hearing the Cello concerto in my headphones. What I can say is, that the concerto is at least a bit more to my liking than to Hurwitz's. The style is, however, very conservative, and very much within the bonds of 19th C Romanticism.
… 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

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2008, 07:56:41 AM »
Haha! I see that you have replaced 'enthusiasm' with 'gusto' :)

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2008, 08:04:53 AM »
Haha! I see that you have replaced 'enthusiasm' with 'gusto' :)

I see it serves our mutual understanding.  ;D In your own quotation the world already appears, a word I would indeed associate more easily with Hurwitz.

I cannot believe you don't own this CD with De Vocht's Cello Concerto (either in its release as a single CD or as a twofer, as I do, with the second CD of more interest: with Jef van Hoof's Second Symphony and Arthur Meulemans' Seventh::) Do you?  ::)
… 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

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2008, 08:28:56 AM »
I have the Marco Polo Romantic Symphonic Music by Flemish Composers Vol.II: Meulemans Symphony No.7, Benoit In de Velden, Mortelmans Mythe der Lente and van Hoof's Symphony No.2.

I also have two further Marco Polo cds with Meulemans Symphony Nos. 2 and 3 and a collection of Flemish music including Meulemans Symphony No.3 'Fir Symphony'.

No De Vocht though.

violinconcerto

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2008, 11:34:05 AM »
There is a commercial recording of his violin concerto:

www.violinconcerto.de

pjme

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2008, 04:39:50 AM »
I received the Cd's today. For me it is a trip back to memory lane....Catholic Flanders somewhere between 1955 and 1965.
The music : I'll need another hearing or two to give a sober comment....

Peter

pjme

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2008, 03:36:13 AM »

My Christmas vacation starts today. I took some time to listen to De Vocht’s Choral Symphony again.
I’m surprised that I find it hard to come to a balanced conclusion. The good news is, of course, that any addition to Belgian music history is valuable. De Vocht’s aesthetics, however, pose some problems.
The De Vocht foundation clearly states that their latest issue consists of “historical material and has a documentary character”.
Most recordings date from the early sixties and are far from perfect. They are serviceable, but the sound is boxy and the performance style is dated – in spite of having the composer (often) as conductor.

The works : a mixed bag that reflects, blatingly, an era gone by.
Belgium and the Netherlands can boast a very rich history of great poets and writers, but De Vocht seems to favor his – now forgotten –contemporaries who use a difficult to swallow, overwrought, (romantico-religious) poetic style ( Albrecht Rodenbach, Jozef Muls, Bert Peleman, Jozef Simons). Peleman is is by far the worst. His text for the cantata “Primavera” (1965) is an amalgam of worn clichés : eyes are clear as crystal, golden hair flows in the wind and mankind should worship God for all those sprouting, heaving, juice pumping wonders of Spring!
For those who read Dutch:

God schiep mij: welig bloeien
Zijn vuur blijft mij doorschroeien!
Door Hem werd ik bevrijd,
Tot bloesemkind gewijd!

God created me, luxuriant flowering!
His fire burns in me!
Through him I was liberated,
Consecrated a blossomchild!

Etc etc

CD1 opens with the Choral symphony ( Symphony for large orchestra and chorus to use De Vochts own title). No irritant text here!
De Vocht leads a fast paced performance (1963) with his own Royal Chorale Caecilia and the Antwerp Philharmonic. Vaughan Williams in exotic mood, Miklos Rozsa, Puccini, a dash of Milhaud & Honegger and a host of Russian Romantics come to mind….The fast movements can be described as vitalistic & triumphant, the slow movement is a pastorale,reminiscent of Nielsen’s 3rd symphony ( Idoubt that De Vocht knew Nielsen’s works in the 1930-ies). 
Still De Vocht has a knack for very catchy tunes ( they do stick in the mind!) all of his own and I’m sure that a top notch recording of this work could be a real winner.
The recording is dim, has no depth and many orchestral details are lost
On the same CD , some orchestral songs ( soprano and/or chorus & orch.) vary from “coy”,”sweet” and “cheerful” to “solemn”, “sentimental” and ”charming”.
A series of 9 purely choral works, performed in 1987 by the VRT Radio choir, sound much better and offer a substantial panoply of De Vocht’s talent.

CD 2 opens with Primavera. A “rural pastorale” for soprano, tenor, chorus & orchestra.and at ca 50 minutes the longest work in the box. De Vocht never changed his style, and one can easily imagine that by 1965, young composers and critics considered him as a dusty museum relic. Yet, even with Peleman’s awful text, I’m inclined to state that real sincerity & dedication shine through. Surely, De Vocht is not a “great” composer, but neo Romantic & slightly sentimental souls may like this paean to Nature, Love & God.
The very bombastic Easter Alleluia is happily very short  - a loud, brash performance doesn’t help.
In 1934 De Vocht composed a Te Deum. Purists are allowed to call it pompous, for today I’ll stick with “solemn and majestic”….It’s built on a three note tubular bell motiv and strives for a grand,  prayerlike effect.

Intrigued?  >:D 0:)The Cd’s can be ordered from

Lodewijk de Vochtfonds
Italiëlei 213, box 12
2000 Antwerp
Belgium

20,- € + postage.

Ps: it is quite possible that De Vocht’s real importance lies in his legacy of “Gebrauchsmusik” for choral amateurs and the church.



« Last Edit: December 24, 2008, 03:37:55 AM by pjme »

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2008, 03:44:58 AM »
The music : I'll need another hearing or two to give a sober comment.... 

Little proof of sobriety, here!  :D Many thanks, Peter, for your elaborate review. Very interesting indeed, read with great pleasure.  :)
… 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

pjme

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2008, 04:00:24 AM »
thanks Christo!
BTW,did you manage to hear RVW's Hodie in Eindhoven or Breda? I went to eindhoven last Friday and really enjoyed the performance. What a pleasure it is to feel the fysical impact of chorus & orchestra.
Christopher Seaman conducted the Brabants orkest. Judith van Wanroy, soprano, Joshua Ellicott, tenor and Andre Morsch baritone ( all young singers!) were very good - and so was the Brabant Koor. THe boys from Sacrament's Koor Breda, wern't not as "suave" as their British counterparts - but it was great to hear RVW's work live!

Next year, in April, combined Belgo-Dutch forces will perform "Dona nobis pacem". I'll keep you informed.

Peter

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Re: Lodewijk (Louis) De Vocht (1887-1977)
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2008, 04:14:25 AM »
thanks Christo!
BTW,did you manage to hear RVW's Hodie in Eindhoven or Breda? I went to eindhoven last Friday and really enjoyed the performance. What a pleasure it is to feel the fysical impact of chorus & orchestra.
Christopher Seaman conducted the Brabants orkest. Judith van Wanroy, soprano, Joshua Ellicott, tenor and Andre Morsch baritone ( all young singers!) were very good - and so was the Brabant Koor. THe boys from Sacrament's Koor Breda, wern't not as "suave" as their British counterparts - but it was great to hear RVW's work live!

Next year, in April, combined Belgo-Dutch forces will perform "Dona nobis pacem". I'll keep you informed.

Peter

Dear Peter, many thanks!  :) But no: with two little kids, I don't attend many concerts, these days. I did hear Hodie live, however, about ten years ago, here in Utrecht. I liked the piece live more than as a recording - the lively contrasts work out much better in a live performance, I think.

Please keep me informed about Dona nobis pacem! (I heard it live too, once, in Amsterdam, but have to dig out my archives to find out when and by whom ...)   ::)
… 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