Author Topic: Gerhard's Gazebo  (Read 17731 times)

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Offline some guy

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Gerhard's Gazebo
« on: July 02, 2008, 12:22:18 PM »
I just noticed a reissue of Gerhard's Symphony no. 4 on the new release wall of my corner music store here in Portland, and thought this might be a propitious time to rekindle some interest in the Catalan/British composer in hopes that our collective appetite will encourage record companies to reissue all those classic LPs by Dorati and Prausnitz and Davis. (This reissue is one by Davis.) And maybe even, dare we hope?, encourage the BBC to release all that electroacoustic music--no performers to pay or halls to hire for them to record in....*

It's odd about Gerhard. His music, to my ears, is endlessly fascinating, whether it's the early Pedrell symphony and ballets or the later, numbered symphonies and concerti and chamber works. (The later works are easier to listen to over and over again, but the easier, more tonal early works have enough quirks and complexities to keep them interesting with repeated listenings.) But even though there are a number of fine recordings, only a few so-so ones, and only one real stinker that I know of, Gerhard never seems to have caught on to the extent that his quite engaging music would suggest he would.

*What? Big record executives do NOT monitor these classical forums? Damn.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2008, 12:29:58 PM »
There are definitely a few Gerhard fans on this board, so thanks for starting this thread.  In the last year or so I've been listening to the two Chandos CDs of his Symphonies No. 3 and 4, and just love them.  (Don't have much of his output yet other than those two, but am eager to hear more.)

Great sense of color (a sort of Catalan version of Dutilleux?) and I keep wondering why you don't see any of his works in the concert hall (at least in New York).  Granted, the ones with electronics are perhaps slightly more difficult to coordinate, but still...

Don't know any of his early tonal work at all, and of course I'm curious: what's the "real stinker" of a CD? 

--Bruce
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Offline MDL

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2008, 01:04:47 PM »
The only Gerhard piece that I know well is The Plague. Dorati's Washington recording scared the shit out of me when I first heard it in the early 1980s.
I've not heard any of his symphonies. Of the Chandos recordings, which should I go for? Collages or the New York?

Offline some guy

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2008, 01:16:13 PM »
what's the "real stinker"

L'infantament meravellos de Schahrazada

I don't think it's all that easy to find, fortunately. (And if this has only served to pique your curiosity, so that you try to find it, and you hate it, then don't come here yelling at me. Only people who have this and love it can yell at me.)

MDL, I would say go for both, of course. But since the contents of the new Lyrita reissue are the same as the Chandos (symphony no. 4 and violin concerto), I'd say your real choice is between the Lyrita and the Chandos recording of the symphony no. 3 (with the concerto for piano and strings and the Epithalamion).

Further than that I cannot say!

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2008, 01:41:17 PM »
Not to worry: if I don't like it I won't yell at you, I'll just come burn down your house.  ;D  Seriously, that might place it further down the list, but I'm usually interested to hear less-than-successful pieces by composers I like.  And so far, pretty much everything I've heard by him has been a "wow." 

I'd echo the "either or all" summary, too, although I haven't heard any other recordings of these pieces, just the Chandos.  (I notice the huge series on Auvidis Montaigne, as well, many of which seem to be out of print, but I see them at used stores.)  You might consider how you feel about electronics (some people I know can't stand any), which appear in the Third Symphony.  But as some guy says, you really can't go wrong with either.

PS, I've heard from others that The Plague is a pretty ferocious piece.  I've noticed this in the store, and even the cover is scary.



--Bruce
« Last Edit: July 02, 2008, 02:09:36 PM by bhodges »
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

~Iannis Xenakis

Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

greg

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2008, 02:44:50 PM »
Quote
Gerhard's Gazebo
wait, have you realized what you've done?

mn dave

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2008, 02:55:32 PM »
wait, have you realized what you've done?

There isn't room in this gazebo for the both of ya.  8)

Offline some guy

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #7 on: July 02, 2008, 03:01:15 PM »
MDL, the coupling for Bamert's Chandos recording of Gerhard's symphony no. 4 is the Pandora Suite, not the violin concerto, as I mistaken reported earlier. On Chandos, the violin concerto is coupled with the symphony no. 1.

The Pandora Suite that's to die for, I think, is the one on Harmonia Mundi, with Alegrias, Cancionero de Pedrell, and the very quirky Sept Haiku.

(It's a pretty big gazebo. The salesman told me it was the biggest one ever made.)

gomro

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #8 on: July 02, 2008, 03:35:16 PM »
I just noticed a reissue of Gerhard's Symphony no. 4 on the new release wall of my corner music store here in Portland, and thought this might be a propitious time to rekindle some interest in the Catalan/British composer in hopes that our collective appetite will encourage record companies to reissue all those classic LPs by Dorati and Prausnitz and Davis. (This reissue is one by Davis.) And maybe even, dare we hope?, encourage the BBC to release all that electroacoustic music--no performers to pay or halls to hire for them to record in....*

It's odd about Gerhard. His music, to my ears, is endlessly fascinating, whether it's the early Pedrell symphony and ballets or the later, numbered symphonies and concerti and chamber works. (The later works are easier to listen to over and over again, but the easier, more tonal early works have enough quirks and complexities to keep them interesting with repeated listenings.) But even though there are a number of fine recordings, only a few so-so ones, and only one real stinker that I know of, Gerhard never seems to have caught on to the extent that his quite engaging music would suggest he would.

*What? Big record executives do NOT monitor these classical forums? Damn.

I first heard Gerhard in the late 70s, the Angel recording of the Third Symphony, with the electronic sounds WAY too loud in the mix. The Chandos recording is far better.  His work is closer to Varese than Schoenberg, but really it sounds like no one but himself. I often take the 3rd or 4th symphonies with me for the long commute to work...

Offline MDL

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2008, 12:23:55 AM »

PS, I've heard from others that The Plague is a pretty ferocious piece.  I've noticed this in the store, and even the cover is scary.



--Bruce

That's the version to get. Don't buy the Disques Montaigne version released in the '90s. The excellent work of the chorus and orchestra is ruined by a comically dreadful narrator. "I was perturbed" becomes "I was pertoobed" etc. He sounds dubbed. Perhaps this recording could be reissued with a different narrator.

snyprrr

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #10 on: December 22, 2009, 10:15:59 PM »
BUMP

Offline donaldopato

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2010, 09:24:37 AM »
I have been away for a while from here, no reason in particular, just can't be everywhere on the net!

Anyway, just seeing this thread about one of my favorite 20th century composers. Been familiar with his music since the LPs of the symphonies in the 70's.

The Chandos Symphony set is excellent but the 4th seems to have been deleted.

I picked up the Lyrita release of the first recording of the 4th by Colin Davis and the BBC SO coupled with the Violin Concerto with Yfrah Neaman as solo. A valuable recording from ca 1970 when this music was fresh and probably intimidatingly new.

The Dorati "Plague", as mentioned, is the way to hear this fascinating, depressing work.

My 2 cents for the day.
Until I get my coffee in the morning I'm a fit companion only for a sore-toothed tiger." ~Joan Crawford

Offline some guy

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2010, 12:15:54 PM »
You know, I was just thinking about this thread the other day, probably because I was giving those exquisite string quartets of his a long overdue spin. They really are fresh and delightful. Not Kagel, not Lachenmann, but in the same world. The same kind of delight.

BBC still hasn't seen fit to issue his electroacoustic music sitting in their vault. I don't know why. It'd be dead cheap to do, no performers to pay, just a technician or two, one at the tape deck and one at the cd burner. Easy!

I'd buy it, for sure. Or them. Hopefully, it would be several CDs!!

snyprrr

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2010, 09:29:18 PM »
You know, I was just thinking about this thread the other day, probably because I was giving those exquisite string quartets of his a long overdue spin. They really are fresh and delightful. Not Kagel, not Lachenmann, but in the same world. The same kind of delight.

BBC still hasn't seen fit to issue his electroacoustic music sitting in their vault. I don't know why. It'd be dead cheap to do, no performers to pay, just a technician or two, one at the tape deck and one at the cd burner. Easy!

I'd buy it, for sure. Or them. Hopefully, it would be several CDs!!

I've been getting pretty close to finally getting the SQs (they have been the very last mid century transitional SQs on my list for a long time). I suppose you have the Kreutzer, which is such a short time cd, but, oh well.

All I have right now is the Stradivarius disc with the Piano Trio, Cello Sonata, and a couple of the late pieces. The SQs would be perfect foil.

I still haven't got around to the symphonies, either. Gerhard is truly the last man on the list, haha.

Offline some guy

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2010, 12:03:06 AM »
The Kreutzer, yes.

And another different kind of yes for the four symphonies.

gomro

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #15 on: January 18, 2010, 05:04:37 AM »
The only Gerhard piece that I know well is The Plague. Dorati's Washington recording scared the shit out of me when I first heard it in the early 1980s.
I've not heard any of his symphonies. Of the Chandos recordings, which should I go for? Collages or the New York?

Collages is one of my favorite pieces for orchestra and tape -- much better than the more well-known Deserts or Kraanerg, imho -- and this performance is balanced better than the one I heard years ago, on vinyl, wherein the taped sounds were WAY too loud.  I would recommend it as Intro to Gerhard Symphonies 101, but the New York symphony is essential listening, too.  If you don't like electronics, go for it.

snyprrr

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2010, 11:27:55 AM »
Well, Gerhard represents the very last mid-century composer whose SQs I haven't heard, just heard about. I heard No.1 was a Schoenbergian masterpiece (Skalkottas was the other Schoenberg disciple who wrote about 5 SQs). No.2, written in the '60s, was supposed to be more in the Penderecki camp.

Well, as we all know, there is only one recording, the Kruetzer on Metier. Even the violinist, in the liner notes, makes mention of this fact, that there is no tradition.

No.1's first mvmt. was written in 1950, a mvmt, which, to my ears, sounds like an exact, Spanish-composed, take on Schoenberg's SQ No.4. Gerhard even utilizes Schoenberg's ba-ba-ba-ba/ba-ba-ba-ba type rhythm. Listening to this mvmt makes me think that Schoenberg's method really only worked within the context of Viennese Classicism as the expression of extreme emotional states (hysteria, for one). Gerhard sounds a lot less hysterical, but still, the uneasy. noctural angst comes through. As a representation of Schoenberg's method, Gerhard's mvmt is a total success, but it also brings up what appears to be a dead end limitation of the method, that it always seems to lead to these Munchian emotional states.

The next three mvmts were written in 1955, and, some have made something of an apparent stylistic disjunct between the SQs two parts (1 vs 2-4). I'm not so close to it that I can pick it up like that.

Either way, the slow mvmt is truly inspired in it's noctural musings. I will be coming back here. The final feeling I got from the first two listens bordered on the "ok, it's nice, but...", but, I have a feeling I will end up feeling very nostalgic towards this piece later.



No.2 is a completely different story. From the get-go, I have been eagerly awaiting the day that I would finally hear this "missing link" in the developmental chain of the post-war avant-garde. I kept hearing about the Penderecki/Lutoslawski type sound connections, and so forth. Then, I read the Amazon review (who is this Scarecrow Ginz guy,... is that you "some guy"?, haha), where No.2 was criticized for being a bit too fragmentary for it's own good (same as with Berio's Sincronie (1964)).

So, I'm listening, and,.... mmm, eh,... ok, it's from the '60s, but I'm having a time trying to get into it. Part II (out of VII) starts out with some nice effects (which are reproduced in Paul Griffith's book "The String Quartet"), but, there does not seem to be all that much cohesion between the 7 mvmts. I had about the same reaction to this SQ as I did to another "must hear" from the '60s, Husa's No.3 (Pulitzer Prize 1967). That SQ, too, had quite a reputation, that, upon initial listening, proved much less trail blazing than had been expected. So far, Holliger, Hiller, Lachenmann, Ligeti, and the whole bunch, hold the top seats at the Wildest SQ Party. I will, however, wear this cd out in the hopes of being converted. ;D



A note on the recording. I got two Metier/Kruetzer cds here (along with their Finnissy), and, it appears that Metier Sound & Vision (shades of ASV?) is a one man operation, David Lefeber. I must say that the Gerhard recording in particular is pretty unspectacular, and, for this reason along could use a new recording (what happened to the Arditti here?). I enjoyed the Kreutzer's Gloria Coates cd, and yet here there is a feral feeling to the proceedings here (which, actually works). The actual sound recording quality, though, does leave something to be desired (especially in the sound heavy No.2).

Honestly, having heard the final missing link at this point in my research was a little disappointing. I think I bilt them up a bit, though, the Amazon reviewer dampened my fantasy a bit (which was a good thing). I needed to hear these pieces, but, now I'm scratching my head. I'm going to have to get my Strad disc of chamber works and have a Gerhard evening soon. I still haven't heard the syms yet, but I do have the feeling that I won't have any problems there (though, I can tell you, that his syms have truly been blown up by all as some pretty good stuff,... and I do believe you all). I'm not holding this disappointment against Gerhard.

Offline some guy

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2010, 12:54:47 PM »
(who is this Scarecrow Ginz guy,... is that you "some guy"?, haha), where No.2 was criticized for being a bit too fragmentary for it's own good (same as with Berio's Sincronie (1964)).
Nope, not me. I would never criticize anything for being too fragmentary. Most things are not fragmentary enough for my tastes!!

I think you'll probably warm to these quartets. Maybe not. But I do want to put in a word for expectations. For not having any. Expectations in my experience are the very devil. Many a time I've had expectations and then had to put the thing aside, sometimes for several years, before I could come back to it and enjoy it simply for what it is.

Good luck, anyway, with Gerhard. I've liked him ever since that first LP of the Symphony no. 3, which I don't think is badly balanced at all--I think it's the best balanced: tape and orchestra equal partners. In the other two, the CD versions, the tape sounds weak and apologetic, as if the engineers didn't really want all those strange sounds interfering with the nice flutes and such. Having said that, the Bamert is by far the better of the two CD versions, in every way. And if you know only that, you know something very fine and satisfying indeed.

Too bad Chandos stopped with that series. I talked to some guy there (some other guy than me, "some guy") who said they might pick it back up, again. Hope so, but that was years ago, and there's been nothing since. It'd be nice to have a decent performance of the ballet Don Quixote, one that snaps and crackles like that LP of the suite (Dances from Don Quixote). Was that with Dorati? I've lost my notes to that album, that or I never made any when I burned that.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2010, 01:35:31 PM »
Thanks for the comments on these quartets, which I don't know at all.

--Bruce
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snyprrr

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Re: Gerhard's Gazebo
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2010, 11:33:15 PM »
I just listened to No.2 again before reading your take on "expectations". I remember thinking just now, listening, that if you had told me this SQ was written in 1989 by someone born in 1963, I would have said yes.

I think I have heard soooooooooo

oooooooooooooooo

                                                   ooooooooooooooooooo many SQs that have taken Gerhard's almost idiot-savant approach (dada?) to it's logical conclusion: the "taken for granted" sound that seems to have been bequeathed to a generation of composers who dare to be born after Kennedy's Assassination.

A little scratch here,... a little glissando there,... a little integrated serialism,... a little irrational "shouting",...

Hey, not that I don't looove this stuff, don't get me wrong. Back to Gerhard...



I really don't want to fault the Kreutzer any. The violinist's notes, however, to me, almost seem to make excuses for the performers, that, this is uncharted territory. That is fine, but what would the Arditti have made of it?

SQ No.2:
I Lento 1'56
II          1'26
III        1'38
IV         0'30
V           4'28
VI         2'22
VII       1'58

@14'30

II, IV, VI, & VII contain lots of interesting effects. Bowing behind the bridge, Gliss, Bartok Pizz, ColAmStLegnoplex... though nothing reaching into true radicalism. It's more as if Webern had been Debussy. I keep sensing that Primitive aspect,... the ostinato effect is here in places. I feel like I should be trippin'... I know I just need to get my time frame. I can dig it!

Honestly, there are a lot of interesting harmonic turns after the slow mvmt (late Schoenberg), V, but, this is where a better detailed recording would really bring some stuff out more. My advice would be for the Kreutzer to re-record for Naxos, eh!!!??!!!