CPO diaries

Started by Brian, March 06, 2024, 01:07:52 PM

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ritter

#40
Indeed, CPO has been really inventive in making obscure repertoire available to the record collector.

In my collection, these sets hold pride of place:



The Milhaud symphonies haven't had a very enthusiastic reception here in GMG (have they, @Karl Henning;D ) but it's certainly a good thing to have access to all of them in one set.




TBH, I have this a singles (except for the Second Symphony, which I only have in the Zagrosek recording on Decca's "Entartete Kunst" series).


The new erato

cpo has a great series of baroque opera under the supervision of Stephen Stubbs and Paul O'Dette from the Boston Baroque fetival. This is just one example:


Brian



This disc contains three unnumbered quartets, in G, A, and E minor. Newspaper articles of the time suggested that Mayer ultimately composed 14 quartets, of which 7 survived, the latest from 1858. (The later ones seem to be the lost ones, which is a pity.) The numbering/exact years are unknown, though in some cases we have info on premiere performances.

The music, to my surprise, is very Haydnesque. Not to mean witty and sunny, but more like the "serious" mature Haydn groupings. The craft is serious, the music has integrity, the parts are all in nice conversation. You could also compare it to Mendelssohn's quartets, but the early ones only, not the fire or complexity of Op. 80.

Although I doubt I'll listen to these as often as I do the Mendelssohn or Cherubini quartets, they are very pleasant and it'll be nice to see this cycle completed.

JBS



Good @Florestan music:
High Viennese Classical style, perhaps not on the level of WAM or FJH, but not far below them.
Well done by the performers. Sonics are crystal clear.

I suppose I should read the liner notes for more information, but I've had a hard week at work, and this music, and the Pinot Grigio I'm drinking, are all the stress relief I need.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk

Brian

There are no rules for erudition in this thread  ;D that sounds lovely and is on my list for next week, thank you! The violinist's name is very familiar...

Florestan

Quote from: JBS on March 22, 2024, 06:08:54 PM

Good @Florestan music:
High Viennese Classical style, perhaps not on the level of WAM or FJH, but not far below them.
Well done by the performers. Sonics are crystal clear.

I suppose I should read the liner notes for more information, but I've had a hard week at work, and this music, and the Pinot Grigio I'm drinking, are all the stress relief I need.

IIRC, one of his violin concertos was attributed to Mozart for a long time, which speaks volumes about their quality.
When I'm creating at the piano, I tend to feel happy; but - the eternal dilemma - how can we be happy amid the unhappiness of others? I'd do everything I could to give everyone a moment of happiness. That's what's at the heart of my music. — Nino Rota

Brian



A tiny bit of false advertising here, as the CPE Bach work is actually one of the cello concertos (in B flat), arranged for viola by the soloist. It's still lovely, of course, and Mathis Rochat is an appealing soloist, with a direct, slicing style that remains tonally pretty. From Johann Gottlieb Graun, we get a true viola concerto and a double concerto with viola and violin. All three pieces fit comfortably together on the disc, with stylistic similarity, and all three are well-written. The stylish playing of Rochat and his small string orchestra accompaniment (with rather prominent harpsichord) are definitely pleasing enough to make this worth an hour of your/my time.



Music for two pianos was a constant throughout Carl Reinecke's career, and this three-CD box spans from Op. 6 to Op. 275. There are three formal sonatas, several orchestral transcriptions, and a whole lot of theme-and-variations type works. The highlights of CD1 are the opening and closing variation tracks, the first one a fresh youthful charmer and the second based on a minor-key Bach sarabande.

CD2 starts with a series of miniatures, highlighted by a scherzo "in canon" (barely) and a swirling, up-and-down darting Impromptu in a very cheery mood. (I could imagine it as a very long encore at a two-pianos concert, or a showoff piece for teenage prodigies.) Then we get the second of the formal sonatas. This is by far the biggest, at 24 minutes, and in C. It starts off in a pensive, Brahmsian mood, but don't expect autumnal profundity; it eventually settles into a little lighter vein. The finale's more rigorous counterpoint brings back Brahms as a reference point in its development section, but not for long.

This disc ends with two 10-minute curiosities: a concert paraphrase of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 19, and a "Dramatic Fantasy Piece." The Mozart piece freely mixes up all the themes, not at all attempting to recapture the original dramatic arc. It's a genial little piece. The Dramatic Fantasy, on the other hand, finds Reinecke attempting to do brooding, emo, and eventually heroic/grandiose. This is not his usual language, but I find the result rather endearing.

CD3 starts with "Prologue solemnis," a quasi-religious sounding slow hymn with a main melody that sounds, a little bit, like the old folk tune "rock-a-bye baby." The faster middle section sounds a little bit like an orchestral piece that has lost its color and contrapuntal clarity in the reduction, although I still like it. The Sonata on this disc is a shorter, more modest one (less than 15 minutes), mostly rather leisurely and amiable in tone. Only the short final "Vivace" picks up the energy.

Zur Reformationsfeier Overture is, I assume, an orchestral transcription. It shares the big theme from Mendelssohn's Reformation Symphony, in a somewhat more reticent, less heart-on-sleeve phrasing. (I don't know the original hymn well enough to know whose version is "authentic.") After five minutes of increasingly elaborate, contrapuntal variations on this Big Tune, the music abruptly stops, then turns to another hymn tune. After this reprieve, the original tune returns along with interjections of Handel's Messiah's "Hallelujah." The two pianos basically duel it out, one playing Handel, the other playing Not Handel. It's super earnest, but very entertaining.

After that, we get a couple light little finales to round out the set: a scene of Mediterranean tone-pictures (including a "Neapolitan mandolin serenade") and Improvisations on a Gavotte by Gluck.

Reinecke's total sincerity, craftsmanship, and commitment to two equal partners really make his two-piano music consistently enjoyable. Although none of this is as memorable or personal as the Schubert masterpieces, it's music I'd happily return to a few dozen more times.

-

I also listened to the Eck concertos album above today, and enjoyed that too.

Brian



Usually I read through CPO's booklets for this diary, but Qobuz didn't upload this one.  :( Wilhelm Berger lived from 1861-1911 and seems to have been heavily influenced by the German romantic mainstream. The Konzertstuck is a 30-minute one-movement piano concerto in a seemingly gigantic sonata form, that starts quietly and peacably and takes on occasional Brahmsian sounds and qualities (influenced especially by the major-key material from the first movement of Brahms' First Concerto). I thought it was reasonably entertaining, and although generally not too dramatic, it does have a grand flourish for an ending.

The Symphony No. 1 is a 45-minute pastoral work in B flat. I'd say it's "epic", but only in length - there's really nothing challenging or unusual or especially interesting in the span of the piece. It's just nice, agreeable background music, in the mid-romantic style of Bruch, Joachim Raff, or Johann Svendsen (though I definitely prefer the much more tuneful and youthful Svendsen symphonies). The fact that Berger's lifespan is almost exactly the same as Mahler's is remarkable because they sound like they come from different centuries. But again, it was very pleasant and cheerful and I used it as background music while getting some work done. A few years after this, Berger wrote his Symphony No. 2 in B minor; one has to assume CPO will record this shortly, along with his other orchestral work, a theme and variations.

This strikes me as a perfect "average" of a CPO recording: well played, well recorded renditions of music that is forgotten for good reason, but pleasant enough to revisit and play in the background.

After my encounter with Wilhelm Berger, I decided of course the natural next thing to do would be...



I can't remember if I've heard this music before, but if so, it was way back in 2008 or 2009, when my university library had copies of every CPO CD. Peterson-Berger was a Swedish composer strongly influenced by the high romantic influences of both Wagner and nationalism (especially Grieg). He wrote folksy Swedish-inspired things, several volumes of Lyric Pieces-like piano miniatures, and a series of large symphonies. In later life he became a music critic who deplored modernism and serialism, and lived alone on an island house with, according to Wikipedia, "his butler and his cats."

Symphony No. 1 is surprisingly like Wilhelm Berger's Symphony No. 1: about 40 minutes long, in B flat, with an epic structure that is mostly pastoral in actual sound. However, Peterson-Berger starts to reveal difference as the music moves along. His heroic tale has movement subtitles like "Between the feuds," and his orchestra is larger, with especially strong parts for trombones and tuba, plus some added percussion. This lends solemn heft to passages about "strife" and the hero's death. The finale ("Toward new beginnings") is more folksy and light, with a glittering conclusion. All in all, it's an entertaining piece.

The suite Last Summer is a half-hour sequence of pretty late-romantic nature pictures, sometimes with rather evocative impressionist scoring (like the piano and harp in the final piece, "Mountain Stream"). It sounds like it could have been written for an early movie. Because of the form, there's not really a narrative - just a sequence of colorful episodes. Peterson-Berger's orchestration is expert. I rather liked it.

Symphony No. 2 begins where the First left off, with a similarly mystical/spiritual feeling to the introduction. The main allegro has a more down-to-earth feeling, and I really like the dancing, tuba-thumping second subject around the 5' mark, which then slips into love-scene-type music. This is a symphony where the colors are so vivid and bold that you can imagine your own program. (My partner likes to imagine a movie in her head when she's at the symphony, and this piece would be good for that.)

The second movement starts with an absolutely delicious "exotic" episode full of pealing horns, clapping tambourine, and (yes) xylophone solos! This portion is structured like one of the big Mahler scherzos, with fundamentally a classical structure, but adding lots of little mini-episodes and bonus bits in between the traditional A-B-A. At three minutes, the main party subject suddenly yields to a slow episode and at 7', a wild new harmony arrives with glockenspiel and bass clarinet. At 10' we get confirmation of the structure when the scherzo returns, this time developed in new directions with new ideas. (I think...my memory isn't that good anymore  ;D ) This movement is an absolute epic, and it builds to a sizzling finish that sounds like a cross between Rimsky-Korsakov and Nielsen in the best possible way.

After all that exuberance, it's no surprise that the finale begins slowly and calmly. The peace lasts for only about two minutes, after which Peterson-Berger reprises fast material in a more traditional, conventional romantic language. It's as if he's saying "we're back from the exotic climates now." The symphony ends with a rather questing, slow-but-intimidating tone that sounds rather like a beginning instead of an ending. (It's a quiet ending!) Maybe he's preparing us for Chapter 3 in his symphonic odyssey. Overall, this is a very interesting work I'll return to several more times, one that reminds me somewhat of the big Stenhammar masterpieces, and one that has an interesting structure with all the fun stuff packed into the middle.

After this, the second CD is rounded out with three short works. The Romance is a 12-minute violin and orchestra piece with a similar heroic/mythic tone. The violinist gets to sound bold and extroverted and romantic, and the center of the piece offers some of the tenderness and lyricism you'd expect from the title. Having the great Ulf Wallin around to play this short piece is like having Christopher Walken pop in to read two lines of your movie. Must be nice!

The short pieces that end the CD, an "Oriental Dance" and processional march-like opera prelude with occasional wedding-march feelings, are nice light fluff with glittering orchestration.

The opening gesture of Symphony No. 3 is not promising. It's a very short three-note cell and makes me think "there's going to be a whole symphony about this?" But then the orchestration - including a very prominent piano - starts to pull things in a more mysterious, less predictable direction. I'll be honest - I know for many GMGers No. 3 is their favorite Peterson-Berger symphony, but for about 15 minutes I got distracted working and forgot to take any notes. The symphony does have cyclical elements, as that opening gesture returns in the finale's development, but I did feel like WPB's imagination was more limited here compared to No. 2, in terms of structure, harmony, and orchestration. The quiet ending seems abrupt.

The Earina Suite is a 20-minute romantic chunk that also finds WPB becoming more conservative in his melodies, harmonies, and soundworld. It's pleasant, but instantly forgettable. The Chorale & Fugue is quite nice and short, with the chorale delivered by brass.

I'll resume the cycle with interest in weeks to come (there are five symphonies) - for now, going to change up my listening diet with something baroque.

Symphonic Addict

Peterson-Berger's 2nd is definitely his best effort in the form. I used to love the 3rd, but over the years my admiration has waned. Perhaps it wasn't as good as I initially thought. His 4th and 5th, whilst pleasant and with some good orchestration ideas, belong to a similar level of inspiration as in the 1st, so I don't think you will miss anything remarkable, although since tastes differ so much from person to person, it may happen otherwise, who knows. Ah, and the Violin Concerto is interesting, more so than his symphonies (save the 2nd) IMO.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Brian



Very nice, tasteful Brandenburgs played "straight" on period instruments. Mortensen's players don't try for any speed records, add loads of ornamentation, or try to be too "periodish." They just play 'em right proper. No. 3's "second movement" has just the tiniest harpsichord flourish for a ten-second cadenza. Teunis van der Zwart, who has recorded some of the French horn repertoire with Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov on Harmonia Mundi, makes a cameo appearance in No. 1. Concertos 5 and 6 have just seven and six players, respectively.



The piano concerto is some of my favorite Emilie Mayer so far. Sunny and optimistic in B flat, with little dramatic contrast, it still holds the listener's attention with the appealing tunes, Schumann-like piano writing, and polished craftsmanship. Tobias Koch's chosen instrument, an 1859 Blüthner, adds extra interest. The period instrument ensemble makes me mentally think backward to the concertos of Chopin and Mozart (she was writing in the mid-1850s), and the booklet notes explain that the classical connection extends to the orchestration, which omits timpani, trumpets, and oboes (!).

On the CD, the half-hour concerto is preceded by four overtures. They are all Schubertian confections of great craft, with melodies I sometimes thought were rather trite, but excellent work within the late classical overture formula. No. 2 uses a triangle, and one of the four, depicting Faust, has a spooky slow introduction and a trombone-supported brass chorale section.

The period instrument ensemble adds some additional color and vibrancy that makes the music sound perhaps more interesting than it would in a modern orchestra. I am not sure any of these works are destined to re-enter the mainstream concert repertoire (except as tokenism), but I'm totally delighted to have them in listening rotation in streaming. I'll have to sit down to the full Mayer symphony cycle (I've only heard the 3/7 disc). The symphonies seem to be in the same rather conservative late classical mold as, say, Krommer or Ries, but I expect nothing but pleasure.



I was trying to save this for later in my CPO odyssey as a little treat, because I've loved all the Papandopulo orchestral releases so far. But @Symphonic Addict has been posting such high praise, I couldn't resist any longer!

One minute into String Quartet No. 1: oh gosh, this is so my thing! So folk-influenced, some echoes of Pavel Haas maybe, busy bustling writing and extroverted personality. The two movements that follow are a little more thoughtful and pensive, but not a lot. No. 3 is, as Cesar has written in Boris Papandopulo's thread, very folk-influenced throughout. I'm going to stop there, however, to save myself some more treats for later. The quintets in particular are very enticing.  8)

Symphonic Addict

Quote from: Brian on May 09, 2024, 10:32:27 AM

I was trying to save this for later in my CPO odyssey as a little treat, because I've loved all the Papandopulo orchestral releases so far. But @Symphonic Addict has been posting such high praise, I couldn't resist any longer!

One minute into String Quartet No. 1: oh gosh, this is so my thing! So folk-influenced, some echoes of Pavel Haas maybe, busy bustling writing and extroverted personality. The two movements that follow are a little more thoughtful and pensive, but not a lot. No. 3 is, as Cesar has written in Boris Papandopulo's thread, very folk-influenced throughout. I'm going to stop there, however, to save myself some more treats for later. The quintets in particular are very enticing.  8)

Glad you're liking this music as well. The whole set can't fail to deliver extraordinary entertainment.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

prémont

Quote from: Brian on May 09, 2024, 10:32:27 AM

Very nice, tasteful Brandenburgs played "straight" on period instruments. Mortensen's players don't try for any speed records, add loads of ornamentation, or try to be too "periodish." They just play 'em right proper. No. 3's "second movement" has just the tiniest harpsichord flourish for a ten-second cadenza. Teunis van der Zwart, who has recorded some of the French horn repertoire with Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov on Harmonia Mundi, makes a cameo appearance in No. 1. Concertos 5 and 6 have just seven and six players, respectively.

Seven players in concerto 6. You probably forgot to count Mortensen (at the harpsichord) in.
Any so-called free choice is only a choice between the available options.

Brian

Oh, indeed, since he was listed for Concerto 5 but not listed for Concerto 6 I did not think about it. But of course there is a very good reason to list him for Concerto 5...

Spotted Horses

Quote from: Brian on April 24, 2024, 08:36:26 AMThis strikes me as a perfect "average" of a CPO recording: well played, well recorded renditions of music that is forgotten for good reason, but pleasant enough to revisit and play in the background.

The "forgotten 19th or early 20th century romantic music" genre is probably my least favorite. There are a few exceptions. One (according to my reading notes) is the Herzogenberg Symphony No 1, which I compare to Brahms in my notes of a decade ago.



What I find more interesting in the cpo catalog are the forgotten edgy 20th century composers, such as Frankel.
There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. - Duke Ellington

Brian



Peterson-Berger's backward musical journey continues, as the Symphony No. 4 combines elements of neoclassicism as expressed in the early 20th century with elements of romantic light music (especially in the glittering orchestration) and a certain pre-Wagner Germanic tunefulness. The symphony, in A, has a bright happy demeanor. The three shortish movements (23 minutes total) flow naturally into each other, and the finale really plays up the light music / folk qualities, with tambourine and triangle in the percussion section. The ending is scored like, and melodized like, some sort of national anthem.

Next up is the 21-minute Sleeping Beauty suite. It's lovely mid-romantic incidental music, similar to several of the other suites in this series. The last suite, another 20-minute chunk called Frosoblomster, is even lighter and fluffier, with a smaller orchestra and lesser ambitions.



The title "Solitudo," and the B minor key, suggest a work of great emotional depth, maybe something like Sibelius 6. But the result, as you might expect by now, is another light, folksy, ear-friendly symphony. Two of the movements are marked "Tranquillo," separated by a wispy "scherzando." The slow movement does create room for an expansive theme with, maybe, a little bit of longing in it. After the first three movements, the finale packs a surprise: glittering orchestration, percussion (including piano and bass drum), big themes, and a folksy Hollywoody language that strongly resembles Kurt Atterberg. The development section has a fun, low tuba solo. It's like Peterson-Berger finally decided to free himself again. There is a soft, quiet, rather lovely ending. It's my favorite individual symphonic movement of his since the huge epic middle movement from No. 2.

The Violin Concerto in F-sharp minor is a 34-minute piece, more than half of which is in the first movement. There is a definite heroic and Nordic quality to the themes of the first movement, not quite as folk-colorful as the violin concertos by Tor Aulin (for example), but also less Bruch-derived than Sinding. The movement ends quietly, leading into an andante. This also leads into the finale, through a crescendo leading to some pounding tutti chords. Then the violinist introduces a finale theme that's a lot more relaxed than you'd expect from the preceding drama. There is some chinoiserie in here, especially around 2' - even what sounds like doubled piano and celesta.

All told, the Violin Concerto may in some ways be one of the most conservative pieces in the Peterson-Berger series, but I ultimately found it one of the most enjoyable. It has more memorable material than many of the suites and incidental works. Still, the composer's overall trajectory is odd to me, from the wild visions of the first two symphonies to the gradually smaller, more domestic lives of the late works.



Albert Dietrich was a close friend of Brahms, close enough that Brahms traveled to visit him and play music with him. This kinship is clear in the Cello Sonata, which uses a Brahmsian language to map Brahmsian emotional territory: calm/wise serenity, inner doubts and turmoil, wistful melancholy, and ultimately a hard-won joyful finale - not carefree but thankful, you could say.

The short Introduction & Romance is just eight minutes of more late-Brahms-like lyricism and soft melody. I quite like all this cello music; though you could certainly say it's derivative, it derives from the best, and if you wish there was more Brahms chamber music, this should be in your library.

After that, the cello departs the program and we go to two sets of earlier piano works, Op. 6 and Op. 2. They're both collections of Klavierstücke, ten total pieces and a half-hour of listening. These are less memorable, and although you sometimes get a whiff of Brahms or Schumann, more often they are fairly generic. In a pleasant way, but not exactly an unforgettable one.



It's not just how easily influenced by @kyjo I am (though that is true!), it's also that I love the super-clean, elegant sound Howard Griffiths always gets from his Swiss orchestra. If the Franz Krommer symphony series sounds like big, beefy, quirky sequels to the final Haydn symphonies, the Franz Danzi series sounds like companions to the first three or four Franz Schubert symphonies. This is a high compliment! They are modest in scope - the longest is just 23 minutes - and absolutely bursting with colorful ideas and late-classical delights. He's learned from Haydn very, very well. Danzi is most famous now for his wind quintet/sextet music, so it is a given that his woodwind writing here is full of character. In other words, I love all of this. There isn't one wasted second.

The advocacy of Griffiths - who prefers a HIP-influenced modern instrument approach with fleet tempi and hard-stick timpani - is exactly what Danzi needs. This is extremely my thing. The only possible demerit is that occasionally I can hear the conductor vocalizing.

Brian



Right up my alley, this collection of Hungarian wind quintets (and one trio). Going roughly chronologically, the two short Sandor Veress works are folk-influenced, with bouncy rhythms and quirky melodies - clearly not too far away from the likes of Kodaly or Bartok. I've recently also enjoyed Veress' music for string trio and need to see how much more is out there. Ligeti's Six Bagatelles are tiny miniatures that are also bubbly, lively, and fun. Then we get to the Ligeti Ten Pieces - more experimental, abstract, and at times pleasantly shrill. Kurtag's Wind Quintet is not dissimilar.

I really enjoy the wind quintet formation in modern music, as - unless they are shrieking - the varied timbres of the wind instruments, compared to strings, can make a wide range of harmonies sound extra-interesting. This is a great example. Nicely programmed (with the most abstract Ligeti right in the middle of the disc) and brilliantly played.



A very balanced program: 15 minute Piano Concertino, 15 minute Stele In Memoriam Igor Stravinsky, 15 minute piano concerto (left hand only), 10 minute Elegie a la memoire de Darius Milhaud. The concertino is a brisk piece that fits into the mold of neoclassical, influenced by jazz and Stravinsky's rhythmic complexity - in other words, it put me thinking about Roussel. The slow movement is marked "Chopiniano," which I think by itself shows the kind of light-heartedness that Tansman felt while writing the piece.

From that light bit of froth, we jump straight into the contrasting work in memory of Stravinsky. This features two elegiac movements bracketing a central "rhythmic study" that was Tansman's way of showing what he had learned from the master. It's a pretty powerful piece and suitable for its occasion.

The left hand concerto does not bring us back all the way to the world of jazzy joy. It's an interesting mix of tonal late romantic moods, with some lyrical secondary material and a thoughtful slow movement (which is where Tansman puts the cadenza). The finale is a perpetuum mobile that keeps the pianist's hand continuously moving, while the orchestra accompanies with mostly light textures (muted brass, wood blocks, glockenspiel) so that the one hand can be heard clearly.

The Elegie starts with a drum roll - and then goes straight into, not elegiac music, but the stages of grief, with some orchestral wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then Tansman moves into slower, more reflective material, which at times directly quotes Milhaud. This makes me wonder if there were some direct Stravinsky quotes that I missed in Stele. (Too bad Qobuz doesn't have the booklet.)

Pretty interesting and varied disc! Griffiths, as always, is a guarantee of excellent performance standards.



The two two-pianos concertos only total up to 43 minutes by themselves, so there are a couple bits of filler by Schnittke, a five-minute "Hommage à Grieg" for violin and orchestra and a Polyphonic Tango.

The Martinu piece is a longtime favorite - perhaps overshadowed by the "double concerto" and by the Poulenc two pianos concerto, but well worth a moment in the spotlight.

The Schnittke concerto is, of course, tougher stuff. I don't know if it's 12-tone, exactly, but the main thematic material has a menacing randomness that insinuates itself like a nearing enemy. The pianos solo for the first 90 seconds, followed by an orchestral exposition of 90 seconds, followed by another piano duet. The piece builds to some classic Schnittke outbursts of wild, lashing-out rage and pain, like an angry cyclops. The two pianos play well in this environment, since they can clash, crash, and bash at will. Not my thing, but I "get it" and the performers clearly do too.

The Hommage à Grieg seems totally 'straight', even romantic, until you get the trademark big angry outburst from 3:00-4:00. It's in an ABA format: the A sections sound like Grieg, the B section sounds like Schnittke. The Polyphonic Tango uses a smaller ensemble of instruments collected from all the sections and has a pretty similar structure. Kind of interesting little chips off the block.

Brian



Upthread, I enjoyed Robert Kahn's clarinet trio. Here the focus is two cello sonatas and three collected miniatures, all of then written from about 1902-1912 in a very, very Brahms-inspired mood. The booklet recounts how Kahn spent his youth trying to add himself to the Brahms circle - slowly befriending all the composer's friends until they finally introduced him, then being adopted by Brahms in a father/mentor type relationship.

The Brahms influence is best felt in Kahn's fondness for some of the same chords and harmonic progressions, and particularly his adaptation of the great Brahms habit of closely alternating major and minor keys to create emotional complexity. The thing that's not so complex is Kahn's melodic material: the first movement of No. 1 and the finale of No. 2, especially, are rather simplistic short motifs that are repeated just too many times. But the music is unfailingly attractive if you can handle that repetition, and Kahn only drifts from his idol's musical language once, in the last minute or so of No. 2, when the cello briefly wanders through some more modern harmonic territory.

All in all, it's a very pleasant album but non-essential unless you are a hardcore Brahmsian - in which case it probably is essential. For me, I'm happy to use this as background music for reading a book on a weekend morning, or keeping cozy in winter weather. Thedeen and Triendl are such accomplished musicians that their playing adds to the interest.

kyjo

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on April 28, 2024, 01:41:20 PMPeterson-Berger's 2nd is definitely his best effort in the form. I used to love the 3rd, but over the years my admiration has waned. Perhaps it wasn't as good as I initially thought. His 4th and 5th, whilst pleasant and with some good orchestration ideas, belong to a similar level of inspiration as in the 1st, so I don't think you will miss anything remarkable, although since tastes differ so much from person to person, it may happen otherwise, who knows. Ah, and the Violin Concerto is interesting, more so than his symphonies (save the 2nd) IMO.

This is one of the rare instances where you and I disagree! ;) I still love the 3rd Symphony, and I doubt I'll ever fail to be entranced by its endearing melodies and glittering orchestration (I'm a sucker for prominent piano parts in orchestral works). It has that same "wintry" magic as Sibelius 6 while, of course, being in a very different style. And as for the compact 4th Symphony, well, it's just sheer delight, as long as you don't expect it be remotely "symphonic" or rigorously developed in the traditional sense. Here, Peterson-Berger exudes an almost Gallic insouciance - I'm thinking of the catchy secondary theme of the first movement which has an almost Poulenc-like mischievous quality. Oh, and the coupling on the disc with the 4th, the incidental music to Tornrosasagan, is just as delicious, written in a folksy style closer to Grieg and Alfvén.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Symphonic Addict

Quote from: kyjo on June 09, 2024, 06:27:37 AMThis is one of the rare instances where you and I disagree! ;) I still love the 3rd Symphony, and I doubt I'll ever fail to be entranced by its endearing melodies and glittering orchestration (I'm a sucker for prominent piano parts in orchestral works). It has that same "wintry" magic as Sibelius 6 while, of course, being in a very different style. And as for the compact 4th Symphony, well, it's just sheer delight, as long as you don't expect it be remotely "symphonic" or rigorously developed in the traditional sense. Here, Peterson-Berger exudes an almost Gallic insouciance - I'm thinking of the catchy secondary theme of the first movement which has an almost Poulenc-like mischievous quality. Oh, and the coupling on the disc with the 4th, the incidental music to Tornrosasagan, is just as delicious, written in a folksy style closer to Grieg and Alfvén.

Regarding the Symphony No. 3, I do save the first two movements, there the ideas, melodies, orchestration, have a special magic. My issue is with the next two which don't live up to the expectations compared to the previous ones. The last time I revisited the 5th I tried to listen to it carefully and it didn't strike me like particularly remarkable, except for some orchestration ideas. And yes, we can't agree all the time, but that sometimes makes more interesting the discussions.
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kyjo

Quote from: Brian on May 16, 2024, 07:34:22 AM

It's not just how easily influenced by @kyjo I am (though that is true!), it's also that I love the super-clean, elegant sound Howard Griffiths always gets from his Swiss orchestra. If the Franz Krommer symphony series sounds like big, beefy, quirky sequels to the final Haydn symphonies, the Franz Danzi series sounds like companions to the first three or four Franz Schubert symphonies. This is a high compliment! They are modest in scope - the longest is just 23 minutes - and absolutely bursting with colorful ideas and late-classical delights. He's learned from Haydn very, very well. Danzi is most famous now for his wind quintet/sextet music, so it is a given that his woodwind writing here is full of character. In other words, I love all of this. There isn't one wasted second.

The advocacy of Griffiths - who prefers a HIP-influenced modern instrument approach with fleet tempi and hard-stick timpani - is exactly what Danzi needs. This is extremely my thing. The only possible demerit is that occasionally I can hear the conductor vocalizing.

I'm glad you enjoyed those Danzi symphonies as much as I did! Some lesser-known symphonies of this period can sound too much like watered-down Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven, but not so with Danzi's which have lots of personality, colorful orchestration, and sometimes surprising harmonies. Your comparison to Schubert's first four symphonies is quite apt - not only in terms of style, but also in terms of quality. And yes, I'm always a fan of Howard Griffith's approach to this late-classical/early romantic repertoire - it's HIP in the sense of brisk tempi and pointed articulation, but he never discourages his string sections from utilizing vibrato, which is a crucial factor for me. More conductors could take a leaf out of his book! ;)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff