Author Topic: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)  (Read 15608 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2008, 12:27:10 AM »
I have always loved Bloch's rich, dramatic and colourful music. Much in the same way as I love the music of Respighi in fact.

There are a number of different sides to Bloch-the romantic Swiss composer, influenced by turn of the century developments in Germany and France and indebted to Richard Strauss(the early Symphony in C sharp minor-available in a BIS recording), the Jewish composer who produced stirringly passionate compositions like Schelomo, the Israel Symphony, the Symphonic Poem The Voice in the Wilderness, the Violin Concerto and the Sacred Service, the ersatz Hollywood epic film composer, the adopted American(the extraordinary Rhapsody 'America') and the later neo-classical composer(the Sinfonia Breve, the Symphony in E flat major, the Concerto Symphonique for piano, the Concerto Grosso No.2).

All of his music however is never less than enjoyable on a very emotional level. He is, in my opinion, seldom dull. I don't find his idiom 'challenging' at all, I have to say.

I suppose that one of the difficulties is where to place Bloch geographically. Although he spent more than half of his life in his native Switzerland he did leave his homeland at the age of 37 and only returned for 8 years in the 1930s. He spent 33 years in the USA(including the last 21 years of his life), became an American citizen in 1924 and the distinguished Director of the Cleveland Institute of Music.

You are right Colin.  He is difficult to place. I have just listened to a fine new recording of his epic, immediate post WW2, "Concerto Symphonique" with Jenny Lin as the soloist with the SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserlautern conducted by Jiri Starek (hanssler CD) it also has the fine Scherzo Fantasque and Concerto Grosso No 1. There is a great newish Naxos CD with the "Four Episodes", "Two Poems" etc with Dalia Atlas conducting (he ASV recording are excellent, including the best version of the "Israel Symphony". The early Symphony in C is a favourite of mine. The comparison with Respighi is spot on.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2008, 12:28:49 AM by vandermolen »
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2008, 07:32:47 AM »
You are right Colin.  He is difficult to place. I have just listened to a fine new recording of his epic, immediate post WW2, "Concerto Symphonique" with Jenny Lin as the soloist with the SWR Rundfunkorchester Kaiserlautern conducted by Jiri Starek (hanssler CD) it also has the fine Scherzo Fantasque and Concerto Grosso No 1. There is a great newish Naxos CD with the "Four Episodes", "Two Poems" etc with Dalia Atlas conducting (he ASV recording are excellent, including the best version of the "Israel Symphony". The early Symphony in C is a favourite of mine. The comparison with Respighi is spot on.

Yes, I know the various ASV recordings conducted by Dalia Atlas and the recent Naxos disc to which your refer. She has done a great job for Bloch's music on CD!

Regarding the Concerto Symphonique-I bought the Chandos version, also coupled with the Scherzo Fantasque and the two early symphonic poems 'Hiver' and 'Printemps'. The piano works are played by Halida Dinova accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of the State Academic Cappella of St.Petersburg.
Do you know that version? Should I have waited?

Oh and..in retrospect I think that I should probably have placed the Concerto Symphonique more amongst Bloch's large romantic pieces rather than the neo-classical ones!

Offline Guido

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2008, 07:33:36 AM »
His Solo cello Suites are one of the most overlooked corners of this repertoire. All three are good, but the first and third (I prefer the first) stand out especially. Extremely moving works composed in the final year of his life all for Zara Nelsova who sadly never recorded them (sadly because her Schelomo is the recording - Like DuPre's Elgar). Luckily there have been other cellists ho have recorded them, the finest being Emmanuel Bertrand - she is absolutely sublime and especially excels at solo repertoire - see her CD of Dutilleux, Ligeti and Crumb too - maybe the single finest CD I have of solo cello music (excepting Bach).
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2008, 07:44:19 AM »
His Solo cello Suites are one of the most overlooked corners of this repertoire. All three are good, but the first and third (I prefer the first) stand out especially. Extremely moving works composed in the final year of his life all for Zara Nelsova who sadly never recorded them (sadly because her Schelomo is the recording - Like DuPre's Elgar). Luckily there have been other cellists ho have recorded them, the finest being Emmanuel Bertrand - she is absolutely sublime and especially excels at solo repertoire - see her CD of Dutilleux, Ligeti and Crumb too - maybe the single finest CD I have of solo cello music (excepting Bach).

Do you know Zara Nelsova's version of the Barber Cello Concerto with the composer conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of London? it is coupled with the Symphony No.2 on an old LP in my collection.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2008, 10:10:18 AM »
Do you know Zara Nelsova's version of the Barber Cello Concerto with the composer conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of London? it is coupled with the Symphony No.2 on an old LP in my collection.

Belated reply to this Colin!

I have an old Decca Eclipse LP with the Barber Cello Concerto (Nelsova) coupled with Rawsthorne's Second Piano Concerto! A bizarre coupling but it was a great favourite Decca Eclipse disc (probably the label I owe most to for my discovery of classical music as I could just about afford the occasional LP as a schoolboy).

Back to Bloch, I very strongly recommend the new CD below. A fantastic Bloch collections. Great performances from Jenny Lin and a terrific programme:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.mdt.co.uk/public/pictures/products/thumbs/HAN093192.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/search/New%2520Releases/NR_January08/January08/&h=77&w=77&sz=10&hl=en&start=16&um=1&tbnid=RKv_loikH5UtDM:&tbnh=72&tbnw=72&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dbloch%2Bconcerto%2Bsymphonique%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26ie%3DUTF-8
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Offline Guido

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #25 on: September 23, 2008, 08:53:03 AM »
Do you know Zara Nelsova's version of the Barber Cello Concerto with the composer conducting the New Symphony Orchestra of London? it is coupled with the Symphony No.2 on an old LP in my collection.

Yes I do know that recording and I don't like it one bit. Zara simplified several passages of this extraordinarily difficult work, obviously with Barber's permission, but they are some of my favourite ones. Also, as great as she was, Zara really doesn't sound in control here - the outer movements are taken too fast for her and the music IMO - Barber I think had become paranoid because Garbousova had often played it rather slowly and he always asked her for it to be faster. This is one of my favourite works of all time, so I am going to have strong opinions about it, but of the 12 versions I own I think Wendy Warner on Naxos is head and shoulders above the rest. She's championed the piece and probably played it more than anyone else - never before has it made so much sense, or been presented so strongly as the masterpiece it so obviously is - it's a fantastic achievement.

To get back on the topic of Bloch - Zara's recording of that piece with Bloch at the reigns is a desert island recording for me - she seems as strongly allied to this work as DuPre was with the Elgar. I'm not overstating this. As Bloch said: "Zara is my music!"
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2008, 08:57:55 AM »
Good job it is gathering dust in my attic then :) :)

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2008, 11:59:40 AM »
Yes I do know that recording and I don't like it one bit. Zara simplified several passages of this extraordinarily difficult work, obviously with Barber's permission, but they are some of my favourite ones. Also, as great as she was, Zara really doesn't sound in control here - the outer movements are taken too fast for her and the music IMO - Barber I think had become paranoid because Garbousova had often played it rather slowly and he always asked her for it to be faster. This is one of my favourite works of all time, so I am going to have strong opinions about it, but of the 12 versions I own I think Wendy Warner on Naxos is head and shoulders above the rest. She's championed the piece and probably played it more than anyone else - never before has it made so much sense, or been presented so strongly as the masterpiece it so obviously is - it's a fantastic achievement.

To get back on the topic of Bloch - Zara's recording of that piece with Bloch at the reigns is a desert island recording for me - she seems as strongly allied to this work as DuPre was with the Elgar. I'm not overstating this. As Bloch said: "Zara is my music!"

It (Nelsova) was my introduction to Barber's Cello Concerto on LP so I still have a soft spot for it. I must listen to the Naxos version which I own. I think that it is one of their best with the Medea Dance on the same CD.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Guido

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2008, 12:36:13 PM »
Yes I agree - a great CD. I like most of them in that Naxos range of Barber's music - the exceptions are the violin concerto and piano concerto - No one is going to beat Takezawa in the former, and especially not John Browning in the latter. Also I much prefer John Browning's playing of the solo piano music to the Naxos guy. Naxos have my favourite recording of that wonderful piece - the Capricorn concerto and the equally wonderful A hand of Bridge (both on the same CD) and actually the finest Knoxville too.

Sorry that this is so off topic!
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

M forever

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2008, 11:33:13 PM »
I played his "Avodath Hakodesh" (Sacred Service) once and found it a very interesting piece. There are surprisingly few recordings of it though.

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2008, 12:23:26 AM »
I have always loved Bloch's rich, dramatic and colourful music. Much in the same way as I love the music of Respighi in fact.

There are a number of different sides to Bloch-the romantic Swiss composer, influenced by turn of the century developments in Germany and France and indebted to Richard Strauss(the early Symphony in C sharp minor-available in a BIS recording), the Jewish composer who produced stirringly passionate compositions like Schelomo, the Israel Symphony, the Symphonic Poem The Voice in the Wilderness, the Violin Concerto and the Sacred Service, the ersatz Hollywood epic film composer, the adopted American(the extraordinary Rhapsody 'America') and the later neo-classical composer(the Sinfonia Breve, the Symphony in E flat major, the Concerto Symphonique for piano, the Concerto Grosso No.2).

All of his music however is never less than enjoyable on a very emotional level. He is, in my opinion, seldom dull. I don't find his idiom 'challenging' at all, I have to say.

I'm only familiar with his violin sonatas but, even so, I have to agree with this assessment. The piano quintets will probably be my next Bloch purchase. Some more recording recommendations here would be quite helpful.

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #31 on: September 24, 2008, 06:08:14 AM »
I played his "Avodath Hakodesh" (Sacred Service) once and found it a very interesting piece. There are surprisingly few recordings of it though.

It is indeed, as you say, an interesting and, I think, moving work! I have the Chandos version conducted by Geoffrey Simon(CHAN 10288 X) but I know that Bloch himself conducted a recorded version and Leonard Bernstein's version is highly acclaimed.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #32 on: September 24, 2008, 02:49:10 PM »
I played his "Avodath Hakodesh" (Sacred Service) once and found it a very interesting piece. There are surprisingly few recordings of it though.

I have four recordings:
Bloch
Bernstein
Simon
Jaffe

it is one of my favourite works. Very moving, not unlike a Hollywood biblical film score in places but also with echoes of Vaughan Williams's choral works.

Bloch and Simon's recordings are my favourites, Simon's recently reissued on Chandos.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2008, 02:51:27 PM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #33 on: September 24, 2008, 02:57:36 PM »
I seem to remember reading somewhere that one version of the 'Sacred Service'-either Simon's or Bernstein's-was cut?

Is that the case, Jeffrey? If so...which version is it? Do you recall?

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #34 on: September 24, 2008, 03:24:30 PM »
I seem to remember reading somewhere that one version of the 'Sacred Service'-either Simon's or Bernstein's-was cut?

Is that the case, Jeffrey? If so...which version is it? Do you recall?

Not aware of this Colin.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #35 on: September 24, 2008, 03:36:50 PM »
I apologise! I did not get this right. The Bernstein version(from 1958 on Sony) includes the spoken Kaddish at the conclusion of the work. The reviewer thought that this would be a "drawback" for repeated listening.

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #36 on: September 24, 2008, 08:42:01 PM »
it is one of my favourite works. Very moving, not unlike a Hollywood biblical film score

Of course, since he created that "biblical sound" that many film composers in the 50s and 60s adapted. John Williams also lifted chunks from this for "Raiders of the Lost Ark". I remember when we rehearsed it for the first time, the section entitled "Taking the Scroll from the Ark" came up and we joked "from the Lost Ark, haha", and then when we played through the music, it wasn't "haha" anymore, it was "aha!".

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #37 on: September 25, 2008, 10:18:21 AM »
Of course, since he created that "biblical sound" that many film composers in the 50s and 60s adapted. John Williams also lifted chunks from this for "Raiders of the Lost Ark". I remember when we rehearsed it for the first time, the section entitled "Taking the Scroll from the Ark" came up and we joked "from the Lost Ark, haha", and then when we played through the music, it wasn't "haha" anymore, it was "aha!".

Very interesting. Who were the "we" who rehearsed it?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

M forever

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #38 on: September 25, 2008, 07:37:49 PM »
That was with the LaJolla Symphony, about two years ago. The performance was conducted by then music director Harvey Sollberger.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
« Reply #39 on: September 26, 2008, 12:16:00 AM »
That was with the LaJolla Symphony, about two years ago. The performance was conducted by then music director Harvey Sollberger.
You know the Lojolla sinfonietta by Martinu? It was the work that got me interested i Martinu once upon a time.

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