Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)

Started by Kullervo, April 10, 2008, 05:54:27 PM

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Symphonic Addict

#200
I recommend the 6 delightful chamber symphonies, the strikingly original La Création du Monde, the piano concertos and Suite Provençale. Yes, the other symphonies cannot be as accesible at first, albeit I consider it's a matter of familiarizing with his idiom.

L'Homme et son désir is a crazy work, but again, it shows how original Milhaud was.
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen

kyjo

#201
Lately I was blown away by his Piano Sonata no. 1 (1916):

https://youtu.be/6raEGCyxLQI

It seems like Milhaud's earlier works are the ones I find more appealing. They have a good balance between his characteristic polytonal passages and also passages of gorgeous, pastoral lyricism. (Some of his later works I find too "acidic" and relentless in their polytonality.) This sonata is completely unique and remarkable in every way, sounding nothing at all like Debussy, Ravel etc. This is one of those pieces that puts a smile on my face due to its sheer wit and invention!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

ritter

Quote from: kyjo on October 11, 2020, 07:55:56 PM
Lately I was blown away by his Piano Sonata no. 1 (1916):

https://youtu.be/6raEGCyxLQI

It seems like Milhaud's earlier works are the ones I find more appealing. They have a good balance between his characteristic polytonal passages and also passages of gorgeous, pastoral lyricism. (Some of his later works I find too "acidic" and relentless in their polytonality.) This sonata is completely unique and remarkable in every way, sounding nothing at all like Debussy, Ravel etc. This is one of those pieces that puts a smile on my face due to its sheer wit and invention!
Thanks for drawing our attention to that sonata, kyjo. I was completely unaware of the work (or of the much later Piano Sonata No. 2). Just placed this order prompted by your post.  :)
ritter
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« ...tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Jo498

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on October 11, 2020, 06:47:30 PM
I recommend the 6 delightful chamber symphonies, the strikingly original La Création du Monde, the piano concertos and Suite Provençale. Yes, the other symphonies cannot be as accesible at first, albeit I consider it's a matter of familiarizing with his idiom.

L'Homme et son désir is a crazy work, but again, it shows how original Milhaud was.
There is an oldish VOX twofer that has Milhaud himself conducting some of the pieces you mention. It is worth seeking out despite sound/playing quality not quite up to modern standards.

[asin]B01K8MTNF2[/asin]
Tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos, dans une chambre.
- Blaise Pascal

ritter

#204
I second Jo498's recommendation. That twofer gives a good overview of Milhaud's music. It's been reissued  by Brilliant, in this guise:

[asin]B00LBKI2U8[/asin]
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« ...tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Dry Brett Kavanaugh

Sounds interesting. I will look for these albums. I only have his piano works by Tharaud. Dave Brubeck, a Jazz pianist, was a student of Milhaud.

ritter

#206
I'm  finally tackling Milhaud's ambitious opera Bolivar, in a 1962 live recording under Serge Baudo. It's included in this 10-CD set:


The opera's libretto is adapted from Jules Supervielle's play (published in 1936) by Madeleine Milhaud. The composer worked on the piece during his exile in America, and it was finally premiered in 1950 at the Opéra, under the baton of André Cluytens and with sets and costumes (700 designs, according to one source!) by Fernand Léger. The recording in the Forlane set is from a 1962 revival of the same production, with René Bianco in the title rôle, Lilian Berton as Manuela, Denise Scharley as Precipitacion, Jacques Mars as the Monk, Jean Giraudeau as Nicanor, and a very young José van Dam in a tiny role.

Léger's sets seem to have been quite stunning:









The artist would later produce some extraordinary murals and stained glass windows for the Central University in Caracas

Unfortunately, the libretto (not to mention an English translation) seems not to be available anywhere, but the broadcast includes commentary (in French) before each scene that summarises the plot, and used copies of Supervielle's long  OOP play can be easily found.



As could be expected, what Mme. Milhaud did with the text was condense it, and include a chorus (the lines of which seem mostly taken from those originally for other characters in the play, with few if any additions). In any case the play does help to follow the action (with the inevitable occasions where the listener/reader gets lost, when the order of some lines is changed or longer sections of text are expurgated). I've so far only listened to Act I, but the opera is made up of three acts with short scenes, presenting important moments in Bolívar's life in chronological order (well known to anyone familiar with El Libertador's biography), and with few poetic licences, even if some critics—who didn't seem to know the difference between a biography and a work of art—were outraged by the text after the work's local premiere in Caracas in 1983 (it was again given in Bolívar's hometown in 2012, and I'm not aware of any productions other than the ones in Paris and in Venezuela).

And the music? Well, the subject matter permits Milhaud to apply his lively Latin American rhythms in an appropriate setting, and the dramatic pacing of the scenes is very effective. The melodic material isn't really memorable, and this work boils down to what the Germans call a Literaturoper, in which the text is as important as the music. In Act I there are some interesting orchestral passages; the first is labelled as a "dance" in the track listing, but a dance in that specific moment of the score seems not to make any dramatic sense, and it's more an interlude leading to the 1812 Caracas earthquake, which was a momentous event in the Bolívar's career. The other is a quite effective interlude leading to Bolivar's triumphant entry in the Caracas town hall after a battle, and his meeting Manuela Sanz. The composer's trademark polytonality is present (but "tamed down", as was usually the case at this relatively late stage of his career), and the music is radiant and sunny (even in the sadder moments, e.g. the death of María Teresa in scene 1). Let's see how the two remaining acts evolve, but this certainly is an interesting opera, and one that in an appropriate staging could be very effective (particularly in the age of surtitles in opera houses).

The sound of the broadcast is rather poor, and the performance seems perfectly adequate. It's available on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/v/kC0tI-emkks

Later on, Milhaud wrote a short two-piano suite, La Libertadora, on themes from the opera. It's available on this CD:



Here's the first movement, performed by the Kontarsky brothers:

https://www.youtube.com/v/jKQDjEBNuLA
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« ...tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Mirror Image

Cool, Rafael. 8) How's the fidelity of that box set?
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


ritter

Quote from: Mirror Image on December 20, 2020, 12:30:07 PM
Cool, Rafael. 8) How's the fidelity of that box set?
Hello, John. "Fidelity" is a word that really doesn't apply to this set. These are mainly recordings from the 50s and early 60s, some from the studio (and in perfectly adequate sound for their age): some live broadcasts (in rather poor sound, like this Bolívar).

Cheers,
ritter
-------------------------------------------------------------
« ...tout cela qui prend forme et solidité, est sorti, ville et jardins, de ma tasse de thé. »

Mirror Image

Quote from: ritter on December 20, 2020, 12:40:21 PM
Hello, John. "Fidelity" is a word that really doesn't apply to this set. These are mainly recordings from the 50s and early 60s, some from the studio (and in perfectly adequate sound for their age): some live broadcasts (in rather poor sound, like this Bolívar).

Cheers,

Thanks for the feedback. I'll pass. :)
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


pjme

#210
The "other" Milhaud:

Milhaud à la Mosolov :

https://www.youtube.com/v/gwPuD4rB0H8

Milhaud in 1963 - sad and bleak....

https://www.youtube.com/v/lJxpDjQoeTA


Symphonic Addict

Today relistened to the 6 little symphonies. My goodness, how unbelievably lovely, poetic and exquisite music this is! Milhaud knew how to use dissonances to create such refined creations. Seriously magnificent stuff. I can't decide which one is my favorite. I love all of them.
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen

Mirror Image

Quote from: Symphonic Addict on January 30, 2021, 01:34:37 PM
Today relistened to the 6 little symphonies. My goodness, how unbelievably lovely, poetic and exquisite music this is! Milhaud knew how to use dissonances to create such refined creations. Seriously magnificent stuff. I can't decide which one is my favorite. I love all of them.

These are favorites of mine as well. What performances did you listen to? The only recording I own are Milhaud's own conducted performances on Vox.
"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


Symphonic Addict

Quote from: Mirror Image on January 30, 2021, 07:05:24 PM
These are favorites of mine as well. What performances did you listen to? The only recording I own are Milhaud's own conducted performances on Vox.

From here:



Delectable miniatures.
Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen

Mirror Image

"Humility is society's greatest misconception."

My "Top 5" Favorite Composers: Debussy, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius and Bartók


Symphonic Addict

The CD below has meant pleasure galore to me today. They're short ballets in collaboration with several French composers. L'Eventail de Jeanne includes music from Maurice Ravel, Pierre-Octave Ferroud, Jacques Ibert, Alexis Roland-Manuel, Marcel Delannoy, Albert Roussel, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Georges Auric and Florent Schmitt; the music for Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel was made by five members from Les Six (excluding Louis Durey). I have to say that both works are thoroughly delicious, fun, carefree, light-hearted and with lots of spark most of the time. There were several moments where I smiled because of the great music in them, e.g. La baigneuse de Trouville (by Poulenc) and Valse des dépêches (by Tailleferre) from Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel. Man, this is exhilarating!!

Recommended with enthusiasm for those who enjoy cheerful music at its best. Another wonderful discovery in this year for me.

Music is life, and like it, inextinguishable.

I love the vast surface of silence; and it is my chief delight to break it.

Carl Nielsen

KevinP

My first Milhaud purchase was in the early 90s. It was nice. I listened to a bit but eventually put it on the shelf where it sat ever since, until a couple months ago. Whatever I went through in the decades since prepared me to enjoy his music a lot more.

I ordered a couple sets: the 10-disc Erato box and a two-disc VoxBox--the latter, I think, a Hurwitz recommendation. Unfortunately, due to slow delivery, they sat in my office mailbox for the past couple months while I was on summer break. (I live and work in two different cities.)

Well, the semester began today so I finally have them in my hands. I'm still in my office but rather than waiting to get home, I've played some of them, particularly the little symphonies. I love this music!