Author Topic: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)  (Read 7184 times)

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Lilas Pastia

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2010, 02:22:55 PM »
Thanks, Dax ! That will be my first exposure to his chamber music. I  have symponies 1 (2), 2 (3) and 6, 7 (1 each). But alas, no 3, 4 or 5. I suppose they must be hard to come by. Amazon says the complete set is discontinued. OTOH it's unlikely I'd buy it considering I already have 4 of them, some in multiple interpretations.

Sean

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2010, 10:04:32 AM »
The Second symphony is an impressive piece, very cogent and satisfying on first hearing.

Offline donaldopato

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2010, 10:06:56 AM »
My intro and sorry to say my only CD of Vermeulen was the Residentie Orchestra recording of Symphonies 2, 6 and 7 with Rozhdestvensky on Chandos now deleted. I was immediately fascinated but the difficulty in finding recordings here in the hinterlands kept me from going further.

I should rectify that. Great music and I do agree Symphony # 2 is an impressive work.
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Lilas Pastia

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2010, 04:25:05 PM »
I listened to that disc this week, in preparation for more Vermeulen listening. I found symphony 6 hard to grab. I liked # 7. But so far I find 1 ans 2 to be the works that work best for me.

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #24 on: January 30, 2010, 07:05:42 PM »
Symphonies 3 (1921) and 4 (1941).

I had a rough time with # 4 "Les Victoires". It starts rather stridently. It's an insistent  stridulation of the winds over pounding ostinati in the strings. There are many sections, but the feeling I had was of the initial  material constantly morphing, as if viewed from different angles or lighting. It's all rather grating and not exactly beautiful, but the perspiration gives way to a beautiful middle section, where for the first time I had the impression the music was breathing. More transformations follow, and the music resumes its angular, sinuous, jerky forward motion. So, basically it's an ABA structure, but you have to be very attentive to circumscribe its numerous sub sections. All told, a difficult but very interesting work. It took me three hearings to start making something of the structure and the language, but my patience was repaid.

Symphony 3 is titled "Thrène et péan" It translates roughly as Song of Death and Song of Joy. It is shorter and the music slightly more amenable. It starts with a typical modern gesture, a three note motif over very wide intervals. The péan is heard first, a rather joyless section as far as I'm concerned. It's quite busy and I'm sometimes reminded of works like Rite of Spring or Sensemaya or Ishavet. "Primitive", "ritualistic" are words that come to mind.

Interestingly, I followed that by André Jolivet's 1st symphony (1954)  and right from the start I had an impression of déjà vu. There is a kinship between this work and those of Vermeulen, in the sense that they are uncompromisingly modern in sound and show a great mastery of rythm. Jolivet's is a more classically structured work though, in 4 clearly contrasted movements.


Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2010, 06:33:37 AM »
Your perseverance is admirable, André, because I agree Vermeulen can be hard going. I have the sense that his tragic isolation made him too unaware of listeners and their perception/perceptiveness. He sometimes doesn't seem to know when he has made his point. If he had had a critical audience, he would have learned when 'to move on'. Sad. Still, his Symphonies 1 & 2 and the Flying Dutchman music I wouldn't miss for the world!
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2010, 08:19:12 AM »
It's too early for me to figure out if Vermeulen is a good symphonist. I haven't listened to # 5 (will in a few days). Symphonies 3, 4, 6 and 7 are works of stature, but their contents are heavily protected from outside curiosity, and I can only glimpse at them here and there. I suppose even more hearing is in order. Brian also has that effect on me. Curiosity, circumspection, bafflement sometimes, but a  feeling there's something of value under that thick rhino skin.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2010, 10:29:23 AM »
Brian and Vermeulen - I know what you mean. Both are sometimes not particularly easy on the ear and their formal processes are idiosyncratic. Still, I do think Brian is the 'easier' of the two. Even his late music can be whistled and sung, if you know it well enough...
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline Maciek

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2017, 03:53:45 PM »
Vermeulen has been a positive discovery for me recently. I think his 7 symphonies represent an important set of examples in the musical form from The Netherlands. I like the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 the most, being the No. 1 the most tonal with a heroic strength, the No. 2 radically different, very 'exotic' (it reminded me of music of Latin America's composers), and the No. 4 with a march-like mood. Despite the works are practically atonal (except the No. 1), it wasn't really an important issue. In addition, the contrapuntal thing makes them more intense and developed.

Offline André

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #30 on: October 30, 2017, 05:28:13 PM »
Boy, rereading previous posts from 7 years ago makes me realize I haven’t listened to any of the symphonies since 2010. Time to remedy to that! I’m curious to see if my old impressions still hold  ;).

OTOH the chamber music has not been neglected in my schedule: I noted hearings of the 2 cello sonatas, the violin sonata, string trio and string quartet in the last 12 months.

Offline André

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2017, 03:47:12 PM »
Reposted from the What Are You Listening thread:



Mathijs Vermeulen’s music strikingly announces the modernism of Varèse. To my ears, there’s a good deal of Ives, too. Of course Vermeulen could not have known either composer’s music: that of Ives was still unplayed at the time and Varèse had not written anything yet when symphony no 2 « Prélude à la nouvelle journée » was composed. Finished in 1920 but premiered only in 1956, it is a disconcerting assemblage of conflicting rythms and textures. The effect is both confusing and exhilarating. The Concertgebouworkest is under Eduard van Beinum. Live, 1956.

Symphony no 4 « Les victoires » was written in 1942, at the nadir of european civilization in the 20th century (any victory was then a mere figment of the imagination). It features a prominent ostinato in low winds and percussion that doggedly pounds away while the winds and later, the strings execute seemingly absurd figures and arabesques. The ostinato comes and goes. A true « war symphony », it’s a powerful work that is mesmerizing and disturbing at the same time. In this live performance, The Hague Philharmonic is conducted by XXth century music specialist Ernest Bour (03.10.1981)

Ferdinand Leitner conducts The Hague Philharmonic in symphony no 3 « Thrène et Péan » (11.02.1977). Written in 1921-22, this too is a tough nut to crack, although its mood is not as anguished as no 2 or as numbing and somber as no 4. It could be described as a « symphony of shadows », especially in the first part (thrène being a kind of funeral procession). The paean part produces some forceful rejoicing, but it is certainly not cheerful stuff. I was reminded of symphonies 2 and 3 and the opera Lady Macbeth by Shostakovich (yet to come of course).

Vermeulen’s music went unplayed or badly played for most of his life. Then, when van Beinum took over Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, it started to be played quite regularly (Mengelberg curtly dismissed the composer’s first symphony in 1918 and never looked back). It has to be said that, by the late fifties/sixties, the composer’s modernisms weren’t too shocking for ensembles and audiences that had started to be exposed to late Stravinsky, Varèse, Ives, Prokofiev (symphonies 2 and 3), Shostakovich and Honegger. Vermeulen could without boasting claim « I was there first ».
« Last Edit: October 31, 2017, 06:28:16 PM by André »

Offline Cato

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2017, 04:07:58 PM »
Reposted from the What Are You Listening thread:



Mathijs Vermeulen’s music strikingly announces the modernism of Varèse. To my ears, there’s a good deal of Ives, too. Of course Vermeulen could not have known either composer’s music: that of Ives was still unplayed at the time and Varèse had not written anything yet when symphony no 2 « Prélude à la nouvelle journée » was composed. Finished in 1920 but premiered only in 1956, it is a disconcerting assemblage of conflicting rythms and textures. The effect is both confusing and exhilarating. The Concertgebouworkest is under Eduard van Beinum. Live, 1956.

Symphony no 4 « Les victoires » was written in 1942, at the nadir of european civilization in the 20th century (any victory was then a mere figment of the imagination). It features a prominent ostinato in low winds and percussion that doggedly pounds away while the winds and later, the strings execute seemingly absurd figures and arabesques. The ostinato comes and goes. A true « war symphony », it’s a powerful work that is mesmerizing and disturbing at the same time. In this live performance, The Hague Philharmonic is conducted by XXth century music specialist Ernest Bour (03.10.1981)

Ferdinand Leitner conducts The Hague Philharmonic in symphony no 3 « Thrène et Péan » (11.02.1977). Written in 1921-22, this too is a tough nut to crack, although its mood is not as anguished as no 2 or as numbing and somber as no 3. It could be described as a « symphony of shadows », especially in the first part (thrène being a kind of funeral procession). The paean part produces some forceful rejoicing, but it is certainly not cheerful stuff. I was reminded of symphonies 2 and 3 and the opera Lady Macbeth by Shostakovich (yet to come of course).

Vermeulen’s music went unplayed or badly played for most of his life. Then, when van Beinum took over Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw Orchestra, it started to be played quite regularly (Mengelberg curtly dismissed the composer’s first symphony in 1918 and never looked back). It has to be said that, by the late fifties/sixties, the composer’s modernisms weren’t too shocking for ensembles and audiences that had started to be exposed to late Stravinsky, Varèse, Ives, Prokofiev (symphonies 2 and 3), Shostakovich and Honegger. Vermeulen could without boasting claim « I was there first ».

Vermeulen RAWKS!  8)  It's that easy!!!  Many years ago, thanks to the Donemus foundation, I received his Symphony #2 and the score for it!  What a ride!  Back then (c. 45 years ago) I compared this symphony to the Robert Browning Overture of Charles Ives, so yes, your comments above are on target, as far as my ears are concerned! 

Many thanks for the information! 
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Offline André

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Re: Matthijs Vermeulen (1888-1967)
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2017, 06:25:42 PM »
Thanks, Leo ! I didn’t see any mention of Ives in relation to Vermeulen’s music, but his name sprang to my mind immediately when listening to symphonies 2 and 3. As per wikipedia, Varèse and Jolivet are mentioned in various articles, but again, Vermeulen preceded both !

I’ll listen to symphonies 5-7 later this week. Too bad there is only 1 commercial disc (on Chandos). This is one instance in which Naxos’ advocacy would be well placed !