CLASSICAL LOST AND FOUND
FORGOTTEN MUSIC BY GREAT COMPOSERS AND GREAT MUSIC BY FORGOTTEN COMPOSERS
20 JUNE 2012
The albums below are "Classical Releases Of Current Key Significance," or "CROCKS", if you will. To purchase an album, simply click on one of the Web site retail outlets given in the "AVAILABILITY" table under the write-up.
Giannini: Pno Qnt, Pno Trio; ManchMusFest [MSR Cl]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Two parts Rachmaninov (1873-1943) to one of MacDowell (1860-1908) with a splash of Puccini (1858-1924) would seem to be the ingredients for the neoromantic creations of Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966). An American composer of Italian ancestry, we've told you about a couple of his orchestral works (see the newsletter of 12 March 2009), and here's a sampling of his chamber music. Both selections on this new MSR Classics release are world premiere recordings.
These masterfully crafted pieces are the work of a highly trained musician who spent four years at the Milan Conservatory (1913-17), and went on to get his graduate degree at Juilliard. He was also a gifted tunesmith as evidenced right from the start of his three-movement piano quintet (1932), whose opening allegro begins with a couple of winsome melodies. These are the subject of a consummate developmental discussion among the five instrumentalists. The movement then ends in a stirring recapitulative coda forcefully recalling the opening measures.
The adagio is a free-form cantilena set to another knockout Giannini tune (KG). It opens in a state of resigned melancholy, becomes increasingly anxiety-ridden, and builds to a dramatic virtuosic crescendo. This fades as haunting bits of KG return in a dreamy closing section whose last measures end the movement with a resigned afterthought.
The driving final allegro [track-3] opens with a nervous foreboding motif (NF) followed by a vivacious cantering idea (VC) [00:46] and a rapturously sinuous countermelody [01:44]. All three are varied sequentially, reappearing in rondo fashion with a powerful concluding coda interweaving VC and NF.
The piano trio (no date available), is also in three-movements with an opening allegro again having a wealth of thematic material. But unlike the one beginning the quintet there are some highly chromatic passages [01:39, 03:02 and 09:41] which give the music an impressionistic twist.
A romantic masterpiece, the andante that follows is a theme and variations based on another attractive melody. You'll find it goes by all too quickly!
The final allegro is a rondo with a curious recurring bipartite theme of "Jeckyll and Hyde" character. More specifically, it's first half is a lovely caressing tune, and the second a wild-eyed darting motif. The two undergo a series of clever tandem transformations as they reappear throughout the movement, which ends like something out of Charles Ives (1874-1954). The composer must have had a good sense of humor!
Our performers are all associated with the Manchester Music Festival (Manchester, Vermont), and couldn't be better! Violinists Joana Genova and Stefan Milenkovich, along with violist Ariel Rudiakov, cellist Ani Aznavoorian and pianist Adam Neiman deliver an enthusiastic lush account of the quintet. Milenkovich, Aznavoorian and Neiman remain on stage to give us an equally thrilling rendition of the trio.
Made in one of the finest American venues, the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Troy, New York, the recordings are superb. They project a generous soundstage in an acoustic with a reverberation that adds an appropriate lushness to these romantic scores, while keeping the instrumentalists well-focused. The piano is beautifully captured with an articulately percussive but well-rounded tone. It's ideally balanced against the strings, which come across as vibrantly silky.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y120620)
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Harty: Pno Qnt, Stg Qts 1 & 2; Lane/Goldner Qt [Hyperion]
RECOMMENDED (2 CDs)
After a six-year leave of absence, Irish-born Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1941, see the newsletter of 30 March 2006) returns to these pages. An exceptionally talented musician, he began his musical career at age twelve as an organist in Ireland. Then around 1900 he moved to London where he'd become an outstanding piano accompanist, and from 1911 on, one of England's most distinguished conductors.
He's best remembered in his last capacity as the arranger of those ever popular romanticized orchestral suites drawn from Handel’s (1685-1759) Water Music (1922) and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1924). But he was also a composer in his own right, and we're treated to three of his chamber works on this new "twofer" from Hyperion. Incidentally, these are the only currently available versions of them on disc.
The first CD begins with the piano quintet from 1904-06, which is in four movements. It opens with a sonata form allegro [track-1] having several engaging themes, including one of folkish persuasion (FP) [01:47]. These are skillfully developed, and reappear in a thrilling recap ending in a final coda with a punchy abbreviated reference to FP.
Harty uses modal as well as harmonic devices to come up with Irish-sounding melodies for the following vivace and lento. Whimsical rhythms turn the former into a charming mercurial scherzo, while the latter takes the form of a moving Hibernian lament.
That optimism found in the first movement returns for the virtuosic final allegro, whose animated thematic material seems to reflect the composer's love of Russian romantic music (see the newsletter of 30 March 2006). There's even an Eastern cast to part of the development, after which the music returns to the Emerald Isle, ending the quintet in a jubilant tuneful flurry of notes.
Sir Hamilton's two surviving string quartets are next, and both adhere to the conventional four-movement schema. The second from 1902 fills out this first disc, and opens with an allegro notable for its distinctive thematic material. There’s an academic sophistication about this movement reminiscent of that found in Sergey Taneyev's (1856-1915) quartets (see the newsletter of 10 May 2011).
The next vivace [track-6] is a captivating scherzo with outer sections based on a light cheery tune (LC) [00:00] surrounding a lovely lyrical central trio. The following lento [track-7] is a study in melancholy, and will be dominated by an opening idea that's a sad variant of LC (SV) [00:44].
The final allegro [track-8] begins with an airy tripping ditty (AT) followed by a more serious imploring idea smacking of SV (SI) [01:06]. SI undergoes a dark development that includes the introduction of a new hymnlike motif (NH) [03:23]. But things brighten with the return of AT [04:54], and after a brief allusion to NH, the quartet ends on a happy note.
The second CD features the first quartet of 1900, which has a youthful exuberance that some listener's may find make it preferable to its successor. There's a bustling innocence about the opening allegro that's most endearing, and extends to the mercurial vivace [track-2]. The latter begins with a plucky effervescent idea (PE) recalling Mendelssohn (1809-1847), followed by a fetching second subject [00:40].
The andante pastorale [track-3] is a gentle summer offering with a surprise flashback to PE [04:00]. Do you suppose the latter could be a passing shower, and are those bird calls we hear every now and then in the upper strings? Be that as it may, simplicity makes this one of Harty's most endearing creations.
The final allegro [track-4] is the most adventurous music here, where a vivacious chromatically colorful thematic passage alternates with a couple of introspective episodes [01:58 and 03:27] in rondo fashion. A surprise cock-a-doodle-doo coda ends the quartet with a touch of humor.
With this release pianist Piers Lane and the Goldner String Quartet, all of whom hail from Australia, unearth more hidden chamber delights (see the newsletter of 30 January 2008). Granted these works were never about to set the music world on its ear, but as presented here they make for very pleasant listening. That's due in large part to vivacious performances that breathe new life into these early scores. There are a couple of upper violin passages where the intonation may be a few cents off, but they're soon forgotten in the context of these infectious works.
A coproduction with the Australia Council for the Arts, the recordings were made in Potton Hall, Suffolk, England, and project a generous soundstage in a warm chamber venue. The piano is well captured except for some lower register blear, while the strings are clearly focused but with occasional bright spots. The instrumental balance is good throughout.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P120619)
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Kaminski, H.: Work for Stg Orch (arr Schwarz-Schilling of stg qnt); Skou-Larsen/NeuGerChAcad [CPO]
RECOMMENDED (1 CD)
Back in 2006 we told you about a string quartet by German composer Heinrich Kaminski (1886-1946, see the newsletter of 16 May 2006), who's getting another glimmer of rightly deserved recognition with this latest release from CPO. Currently it's the only available disc with the augmented version of his string quintet.
The son of a former Polish Catholic priest, who was half-Jewish, and an "Aryan" mother, Kaminski would study music in Berlin, and eventually become intensely religious. He began teaching in 1914, and could count Carl Orff (1895-1982, see the newsletter of 12 April 2010) among his students. However, his political leanings led to problems with the Nazis, and his professorship at the Prussian Academy of Arts was terminated in 1933.
Fortunately he was saved from internment by his mixed Semitic ancestry. However, living in Germany during World War II (1939-45) imposed great hardships on him and his family. It also contributed significantly to his early demise just short of his sixtieth birthday.
In 1915-16 Kaminski wrote a four-movement string quintet lasting a little over fifty minutes. With symphonic proportions like that it's not surprising to learn a venturous Viennese publishing house later expressed interest in printing an augmented version of it for string orchestra. Accordingly the composer asked his student Reinhard Schwarz-Schilling (1904-1985) to do one, which he completed in 1928-29, turning the original into a modern day concerto grosso (see the newsletter of 21 September 2011). It was subsequently given the generic title Work for String Orchestra, which is what we have here.
The slow-fast-slow opening movement [track-1] begins somberly with agitated rhythmic seizures reminiscent of a Beethoven (1770-1827) scherzo. A comely caressing theme (CC) follows [02:02], and then a despondent development with what at one point sounds like a hint of the Dies Irae [05:03]. Spiky anxiety-ridden passages alternate with quiet passive ones recalling CC, and then the movement ends with a final Beethoven hiccup.
The next andante [track-2] is a ternary lament with a morose opening section that builds to a remorseful crescendo. This gives way to a more emotionally wrought central episode [05:53] with intimations of a Bruckner (1824-1896) slow movement. The opening is then recalled [10:06], concluding things on a despondent note.
The rustic-sounding scherzo [track-3] commences with a relaxed lãndler-like tune that soon becomes rather excited. This gives way to a more laidback passage [02:47], again with Brucknerian overtones, followed by a developmental section [05:33]. Reminiscences of the opening then surface [07:26], ending the movement spasmodically in midair.
The finale marked fuga [track-4] follows immediately, and clocking in at almost twenty minutes it's extremely convoluted, highly engaging music with a complexity approaching Beethoven's Grosse Fuge (1826). Prolix musicologist Eckhardt van den Hoogen's (see the newsletter of 6 January 2012) album notes are of no help, and there's not enough space for a detailed analysis here, so it will take repeated listening to fully sort out.
Suffice it to say it's a theme and variations, which begins with an intensely compelling fugal representation of the main subject containing a forceful motif (FU) [00:42] that serves to unify the movement. The five transformations which follow are morose [03:06], meditative [05:30], scherzoesque [09:20], heroic [11:58] and lullaby-like [14:26]. The latter bridges into a final sixth [15:33], which reprises the movement's contrapuntal start. It ends in a coda [17:05] that recalls FU [17:49], and concludes the piece with a parting sigh.
With its concerto grosso characteristics, Work... has demanding solo as well as tutti passages, which the German Chamber Academy of Neuss (GCAN) under Austrian-trained conductor Lavard Skou-Larsen deliver with great aplomb. Obviously every one of the twenty-two GCAN musicians performing here are virtuosos in their own right, while the ensemble playing is a study in precision and tonal opulence.
The location for this recording was the Robert-Schumann-Saal in Düsseldorf, Germany, which was specifically designed for chamber music. Accordingly the soundstage projected is ideally proportioned and surrounded by a moderately reverberant acoustic. The performers are suitably positioned to insure proper highlighting of soloists as well as a well integrated rich ensemble sound. The focus and definition are commendable except for some occasional graininess in massed upper violin passages.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P120618)
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Lopes-Graça: Ste Rústica 1, Sym, December..., Festival March; Cassuto/RScotNa O [Naxos]
RECOMMENDED (1 CD)
Portuguese conductor Álvaro Cassuto continues his invaluable survey for Naxos of twentieth century symphonic music by his compatriots (see the newsletters of 26 January 2011 and 8 February 2012) with this latest disc devoted to Fernando Lopes-Graça (1906-1994). As of this writing these are the only readily available recordings of the four selections included here.
One of Portugal's most prolific composers, Fernando was the Bela Bartok (1881-1945) of his country when it came to folk music. That's particularly true of the initial selection on this disc, Suite Rústica No. 1 (Rustic Suite No. 1) of 1950, which is the first of three, the other two being for string quartet and wind ensemble respectively. Based on unidentified folk songs from different areas of the country and brilliantly scored, it's in six sections and opens with an attractive cantilena [track-1, 00:13]. This has a melodic contour which one senses in each of the next five numbers, giving the work a "theme and variations" feeling.
The second section is a spirited brass-percussion-accented dance. But anguish fills the occasionally dissonant third, while the fourth takes on a whimsical, slightly humorous character. The suite then ends with a sobbing lamentation, and a final rhythmically explosive fiesta number worthy of Ginastera (1916-1983).
The December Poem from 1961 is a symphonic expressionist meditation devoid of any obvious folk influences. An emotionally captivating work, it opens mournfully and builds to a psychotic climax, only to fade away much as it began. It may bring Franz Schreker (1878-1934) to mind.
The mood brightens with Festival March [track-8] written in 1954. Snare drum rolls and brass fanfares introduce an arresting squeezebox motif (AS) [00:50] similar to passages in Stravinsky's (1882-1971) Petrushka (1911, revised 1947). The main march tune (MM) then emerges [01:50], bearing a strange resemblance to the old sea chantey "What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor!" Some rambunctious developmental acrobatics are next, succeeded by the return of AS [04:56] and MM [05:09]. They herald a raucous penultimate outburst followed by a pregnant pause. This gives birth to a final supercharged coda [06:05] whose opening resembles passages near the beginning of Paul Dukas' (1865-1935) The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1897).
The program closes with Lopes-Graça's only symphony of 1944. It's a three-movement neoclassical work in line with those being written then by the likes of Igor Stravinsky and Alexander Tansman (1897-1986, see the recommendation below and the newsletter of 25 November 2008).
The opening allegro rapsodico [track-9] is in sonata form, and kicks off with a jolly scherzo-like idea (JS) [00:23] having a Stravinskyesque rhythmical persistence. JS is cleverly manipulated, and then a reverent folkish countermelody (RF) [03:14] appears. RF is repeated with rising-falling insistency, and along with JS becomes the subject of a fugally introduced development [05:18]. At one point RF takes the form of a ponderous chorale [05:51] dominating the underlying baseline. Then a little later it introduces the recapitulation [09:06], which builds to a massive concluding coda. This is at first based on RF, then references to JS are finally heard ending the movement optimistically.
The intermezzo that's next [track-10] begins wistfully, and then a halting sinister idea (HS) appears [00:51], succeeded by a yearning spun out melody (YS) [01:39]. YS builds to an emotional climax that ends suddenly with a reprise of HS [04:45]. A dramatic episode follows with the return of YS [07:13], and the movement ends with whimpers of its opening measures.
Like Brahms' (1833-1897) fourth symphony (1884-85), Fernando’s ends in a passacaglia [track-11], which opens with the robust ostinato motif (RO) [00:01] that will dominate it. Reputedly of Portuguese folk origin (see Cassuto's informative album notes), there's something vaguely Slavic about it along the lines of "The Song of the Volga Boatmen" (see the newsletter of 14 May 2012).
RO is repeated continually by different instrumental groups, and the lifeblood for an astonishing variety of colorful, tempo-oriented variations. The opening ones range from gymnastic [01:12] to weeping [01:52] and mystical [04:09] like "Neptune, the Mystic" in Gustav Holst's (1875-1934) The Planets (1916). These are followed by languid [05:08], assertive [07:00], scherzoesque [07:56], and martial [09:06] variants. Then the passacaglia concludes in a magic coda [11:15] akin to that ending the first movement of Beethoven's (1770-1827) Choral Symphony (No. 9, 1822-24), but with a peaceful fadeaway ending.
Conductor Cassuto and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra approach this music with an enthusiasm and attention to instrumental detail which bring out the best in these solidly crafted colorful scores. That's particularly true of the symphony's last movement, whose rhythmic and dynamic intricacies pose a challenge to any conductor.
Made in the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, the recordings present a wide, deep soundstage in an attractively reverberant acoustic. But the violin sound seems a bit confined, and the overall instrumental timbre somewhat brittle in the high end. That said, the Naxos engineers get top marks for keeping all those solo instrumental groups popping up in the final passacaglia beautifully focused and highlighted against the rest of the orchestra.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P120617)
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Tansman: Pno Conc, Stèle, Pièce Conc (pno & Orch), Élégie; Seibert/Griffiths/FrankBrandSt O [CPO]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Polish-born Alexandre Tansman’s (1897-1986) stature as a composer seems to grow with each new release of his rarely performed music (see the newsletter of 25 May 2011). This latest offering from CPO is no exception giving us the only currently available recordings of four works that must rank with his best on disc to date.
He was a cosmopolitan composer who began his musical studies in Poland, and around age twenty-two (1919) decided to further his career in Paris. It was there he met Ravel (1875-1937), who became his mentor, and established lifelong friendships with Stravinsky (1882-1971) as well as Milhaud (1892-1974). He would also get to know George Gershwin (1898-1937) when he visited Paris in 1928 (see the newsletter of 22 November 2010).
Unfortunately like many others of Jewish heritage, Tansman was forced by the Nazi occupation of France to flee Europe for the United States in 1941. He would eventually settle in Los Angeles, but he greatly missed Continental life, and returned to France in 1946, where he'd live out the rest of his years.
With such a varied background it's not surprising to find his creations an eclectic mix of impressionism, neoclassicism, polytonality and jazz elements. They are among some of the most immaculately articulate little known gems to come out of the twentieth century.
The leadoff selection, his concertino for piano and orchestra from 1931, is a prime example. In three movements, the first one begins with the piano playing a jazzy toccata. It's soon joined by the orchestra in a syncopated lyrical episode stating a couple of attractive melodies. A brief development ensues, after which soloist and tutti recapture the excitement of the opening measures.
Titled Intermezzo Chopiniano, the next movement is a haunting combination of Chopin (1810-1849) and Gershwin. On the other hand the finale is a study in contrasts between a saucy, keyboard-fireworks-filled introduction reminiscent of Poulenc (1899-1963), and some melancholy ideas. But the spirited opening measures return to end one of Tansman's most engaging pieces with an unpretentious flick of the wrist.
The mood becomes more serious with Stèle in memoriam d'Igor Stravinsky (Stele in Memory of Igor Stravinsky, 1972). Written to honor the memory of his good friend, whom he'd seen regularly during his Los Angeles days, it's a triptych whose slow-fast-slow construction resembles a French overture.
The initial "Elegia" opens with allusions to "The Sacrifice" (second part) from The Rite of Spring (1911-13, revised 1947), which sets the plaintive mood pervading this section. Colorfully orchestrated with eerie percussive effects that add an otherworldly dimension, it ends with a hint of reconciliation over the loss of his colleague.
"Studio ritmico" ("Rhythm Study") is immaculately scored, and begins frenetically with skittering strings plus shimmering percussion. The texture then thins ushering in a whimsical fugal passage. This intensifies, only to be swept away by the rhythmic chaos of the opening measures, concluding the movement much as it began.
The work ends in an articulate "Lamento" that starts with a three-note rhythmic riff (TR), and is pervaded by a lachrymose chorale-like melody. This becomes increasingly disembodied, finally closing in funereal fashion with sustained weeping winds, bell-like percussion and a timpani tattoo.
Do you know what Tansman had in common with Richard Strauss (1864-1949), Franz Schmidt (1874-1939), Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957) and Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), see the newsletter of 3 October 2008)? They all wrote left-hand concertante works for Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961), who'd lost his right arm in World War I (1914-18). Alexandre's dates from 1943 and is called Pièce Concertante, but for some unexplained reason he left it as a piano score with some orchestral sketches.
Enter Polish composer Piotr Moss (b. 1949) in 2008, who fashioned these materials into the performing version premiered here. It's strongly influenced by Ravel's piano concertos (1931), and oddly enough its opening allegro begins with the same TR motif referenced in the preceding piece. A highly lyrical thematic idea follows and undergoes a harmonically rich development involving both soloist and orchestra. It includes a fleeting cadenza just before transitioning directly into the next andante.
With a thematic profile distantly related to the "Lullaby of the Firebird" from Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird (1910), the latter is a dreamy reverie with another brief cadenza. In A-B-A form it ends like it began, after which there's a brief pause followed by the concluding vivace [track-9]. This is a jazzy offering that keeps the soloist as busy as a one-armed paperhanger, and sports a bubbly central "fugato minuscolo" [03:17]. The piece ends in a joyous flurry of notes.
In 1975 Tansman wrote Élégie à la mémoire de mon ami Darius Milhaud (Elegy in Memory of My Friend Darius Milhaud) [track-10], who had died the previous year. In three brilliantly scored contiguous arches -- Alexandre seems to have had a thing about ternary structures -- it opens imposingly with a whack on the bass drum, snare drum roll, and a grim descending motif for strings with exclamatory brass. Dreamy mystical passages with a fluid bluesy theme (FB) [02:53] derived from Milhaud's ballet La création du monde (The Creation of the World, 1923) follow.
They swell, sounding at times like a couple of the more subdued moments in Ferde Grofé's (1892-1972) Grand Canyon Suite (1931, see the newsletter of 20 November 2006), and then fade away to nothing. But there's more to come as FB rematerializes [05:10] announcing the middle episode. Spooky and disorienting, it could represent the migration of the soul to its final resting place. Then after a brief pause the snare drum announces the concluding section [08:56], which is a return to the ominous mood of the opening, ending the elegy with a heavy heart.
You've probably never heard of German pianist Christian Seibert, but judging by his technically accomplished, highly stimulating performances on this disc he may soon become much better known. His rendition of the concertino is a study in precision, which also applies to Pièce Concertante, despite his having one hand tied behind his back .
Once again conductor Howard Griffiths and the Frankfurt Brandenburg State Orchestra distinguish themselves here (see the newsletter of 31 July 2009). They provide Herr Seibert with outstanding support, and deliver stunning performances of the two dedicatory pieces. Tansman couldn't have better advocates of his music.
A coproduction of German Radio and CPO, the recordings were made in the C.P.E. Bach Concert Hall, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany. They project an ideally proportioned soundstage in a complementary venue that was once a thirteenth century Franciscan church.
The piano is beautifully captured and balanced against the orchestra, while the instrumental timbre is musically inviting with a clarity devoid of glare. The many solo passages in these colorful scores are appropriately highlighted, giving us a demonstration quality disc.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y120616)
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Van Gilse: Sym 3 "Elevation"; Asszonyi/Porcelijn/Neth SO [CPO]
RECOMMENDED (1 CD)
Following their groundbreaking release of Dutch composer Jan van Gilse's (1881-1944) first two symphonies (see the newsletter of 13 August 2008), CPO now gives us the only currently available disc of his equally intriguing third (there are four and fragments of a fifth).
Composed in 1906-07 not long after he'd finished studying in Berlin with Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921, see the newsletter of 25 April 2012), it's subtitled "Erhebung" ("Elevation") and won the German equivalent of the Prix de Rome in 1909. A five-movement work with soprano solos in the third and fifth, the influence of Richard Wagner (1813-1883), whose operas he'd heard during his years in Germany, is apparent.
The gorgeous opening slow movement [track-1] begins sorrowfully leading to a dramatic crescendo. A more hopeful theme [05:29] follows and undergoes an anguished development, which fades directly into the second sonata form movement [track-2].
This starts in a state of great agitation with timpani-reinforced churning strings and brass interjections. The pace slows with the introduction of two melancholy ideas [01:24 and 02:45], only to resume again in an impassioned development of both. This cools into a recap [08:26] and final funereal coda [09:42] based on them.
Out of Wagner and headed towards Richard Strauss' (1864-1949) later orchestral songs, the third movement [track-3] is one of the best romantic vocal discoveries to appear in a long time. It opens with an affecting symphonic introduction that might well invoke a glorious sunrise, after which the soloist enters [03:30] singing a paean to love (see the album notes for the unidentified text in German and English). You'll find it an incentive to seek out van Gilse's other vocal works, which include several cantatas and a couple of operas (currently unavailable on disc).
What for lack of a more precise term might be called a scherzo-divertissement follows [track-4], and begins with an ebullient neoromantic waltz episode (EN) [00:01]. This transitions into a more lyrical trio section with a carefree folk-like theme (CF) [03:59] reminiscent of Hans Pfitzer's (1869-1949, see the newsletter of 28 February 2011) lighter moments. CF is then subjected to a rigorous development that includes a thrilling big tune restatement of it (TB) [05:47], and a delightfully whimsical pizzicato-harp-laced passage [07:32]. The movement ends in an ecstatic coda hinting at EN.
At over twenty minutes the last movement [track-5] is the longest, with a vocal section based on an excerpt from the Song of Songs (see the album notes for German and English texts). It begins with a beautiful, highly dramatic orchestral introduction having a sublime chorale-like theme (SC) [00:13] that appears in a couple of forms [05:20 and 09:50].
The soprano enters [12:17] expressing blissful vernal thoughts and extolling the power of love, all to a highly chromatic melody related to SC. Her ecstatic offering is capped by an overpowering orchestral coda recalling TB. With a sense of the arcane anticipating Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten (1919), it's absolutely gorgeous, and like the third movement a real vocal discovery!
In keeping with his previous van Gilse release for CPO referenced above, Dutch conductor David Porcelijn leads the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra in a stunning rendition of this rarely heard symphony. Soprano Aile Asszonyi gives a beautifully sung, highly sensitive account of the two vocal selections.
Made in the Netherlands, the recordings project a somewhat narrow but deep soundstage in a warm, moderately live acoustic. The instrumental timbre is pleasingly musical with occasionally brittle highs. Ms. Asszonyi's lyric voice is well captured, and balanced against the orchestra.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P120615)
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