CLASSICAL LOST AND FOUND
FORGOTTEN MUSIC BY GREAT COMPOSERS AND GREAT MUSIC BY FORGOTTEN COMPOSERS
31 JANUARY 2022
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.
David, J.N.: Five String Trios (G major & Op. 33 Nos. 1-4); OÖ. David-Trio [CPO]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Some years ago we told you about four of Austrian composer Johann Nepomuk David's (1895-1977) eight symphonies on CPO (see 23 June 2014 and 31 July 2018). Now that adventurous label gives us his five string trios, each of which has three-movements. They're all the more colorful for the composer's skillful use of special string effects (e.g., glissando, pizzicato, tremolo, trill) in addition to string harmonics as well as tapping and bowing techniques.
Proceeding chronologically, the String Trio in G major (1931) is a reworking of two earlier, identically scored pieces bearing the name Sonatine, which were written in 1928 and 1929. That said, David's allegretto (lively), sonata-form first movement [T-13] is a late-Romantic dish with chromatic spicing, and may bring to mind the opening one from German composer Max Reger's (1873-1916) last effort in the genre (1915).
Its opening statement has two ideas that are respectively songful (SF) [00:01] and yearning (YR) [00:37]. Then (YR) initiates a vivacious, two-part development of the foregoing [00:48 & 01:42]. This is followed by a pause and SF-initiated, nervous recap [02:13], having a YR-based coda [02:56] that ends the movement with a pizzicato pluck.
The subsequent "Moderato" [T-14] is a four-part passacaglia [00:01, 01:43, 02:58 & 03:21] with a devout, YR-reminiscent ostinato heard at the outset. It's a reverent respite before the allegretto leggiero (lively and nimble) marked closing movement.
This is a theme-and-variations-like canon based on an opening, SF-reminiscent perky thought (SP) [00:01]. Accordingly, SP undergoes several treatments that range from whimsical [00:51] to headstrong [01:17], feline [02:05] with a flighty midriff [03:04-03:25], and forceful [04:18]. Then a subdued, SF afterthought [04:27] ends the work unassumingly.
Not long after World War II (WWII, 1939-45) David would write two more string trios (1945), and yet another pair of them some three years later (1948). These immaculately crafted works, which are grouped as his Op. 33, fill out this release. Incidentally, the composer dedicated each to a different, famous luthier. Moreover, the first honored Nicolò Amati (1596-1684), while the next three paid homage to Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), Giuseppe Guanieri (1698-1744) and Jacob Stainer (1619-1683) respectively.
His Op. 33 No. 1 of 1945 has a sonata-form, first movement marked allegro deciso (straffe Halbe) (decidedly fast (taut half notes)) [T-1]. Its opening statement has a brief, lively preface hinting at a whimsical first theme (WM) that soon appears [00:08 & 00:26]. Then WM bridges into a complementary second thought (WC) [01:00], and initiates a capricious development [01:19] followed by a brisk recapitulation [03:48] that ends the movement expeditiously.
The next one [T-2] begins adagio (langsam fließend Halbe) (slow (slow fluent half notes)) with a sad theme (SD) [00:01] that's cause for a pensive contemplation. However, after a brief pause the music suddenly shifts gears and we get an allegro leggiero (fast and nimble), mercurial version of ST (MC) [02:39]. MC powers "scherzoesque" passages that seemingly end, but soon resume at a frenetic pace [03:09], thereby concluding this Janus-like creation with a big grin.
Then there's an allegretto (lively), fugal last movement [T-3] based on a WF-WC subject (FC) [00:01]. As the music proceeds, FC undergoes some melodic alterations. These include inversion as well as augmentation. The latter appears towards the end in the cello part [beginning at 02:30] and is marked stark gezogen (strongly drawn). It underlines the closing measures, which end the work with a perfunctory, pizzicato plunk.
Moving right along there's the Op. 33 No. 2 (1945). Like No. 1 there's a sonata-form first movement [T-4], but this time around the marking is Gemächliche Viertel, fließend (leisurely quarter notes, fluent). Here an aloof first theme (AF) [00:02] is followed by a chatty second (CT) [00:58], which initiates a peripatetic development [01:21] involving both. This becomes increasingly distraught and gives way to a pause. Then an augmented AF [04:12] invokes a canonesque recapitulation that waxes and wanes, bringing the movement to a tranquil conclusion.
It's followed by a tragic Adagio (langsame punktierte Vierte) (Slow (dotted quarter notes)) [T-5] that begins with a wistful version of AF [00:01]. This is the subject of three gloomy treatments [02:21, 03:49 & 04:58], the last of which ends things uneventfully.
The mood brightens with the concluding Allegro energico (Halbe) (Fast and energetic (half notes)) [T-6], which is of sonata-rondo disposition and begins with a playful version of AF (AP) [00:01]. AP is the recurring idea for captivating developmental passages [00:48]. These come to a brief pause, making you think this piece has ended. But then an invigorated AP [04:15] launches a recapitulative episode that brings it to an expeditious conclusion.
Three years later, the composer wrote the two remaining trios in this series, his Op. 33 No. 3 (1948) being our next selection. It's first movement [T-7] has a pensive, adagio (slow) introduction [00:02] hinting at things to come. Then the music becomes allegro moderato (moderately fast) with a three-part, developmental passacaglia [01:35, 03:09 & 05:46]. This has an ostinato that's a chorale-like idea (CR) [01:35], and ends the movement uneventfully.
Bearing the lengthy marking allegro leggierissimo, so leicht und rasch als ausfuhrbar (very light, as easily and quickly as possible), the second one [T-8] is a scherzo with frenetic, stretto-laced, CR-tinged, outer sections [00:01 & 02:56]. They surround a relaxed CR-reminiscent trio [01:57-02:55], which brings to mind a troubadour serenading his ladylove, and the last one closes things with an anguished outburst [04:15].
The hectic pace set above continues in the closing Allegro (Fast) [T-9]. This begins with our old friend CR [00:01], which immediately becomes the main subject for a magnificent fugue that transitions into some variational treatments of CR. These range from subdued [03:35] to highly agitated [03:53], nostalgic [04:02] and busy [04:27], where the last ends the trio with a sudden fff chord for all [05:15].
Turning to the next, it's the companion Op. 33 No. 4 (1948), which is a thematically convoluted piece of work (see the detailed album notes). Suffice it to say the initial Vivo (Heftig voran, aber nicht hasten) (Lively (Vigorously forward, but not rushed)) [T-10] gets off to an agitated start [00:02], soon followed by more laid-back back passages [01:16] that evoke an austere theme (AT) [01:29].
AT undergoes an exploration, which turns increasingly troubled [02:37] with a variety of colorful string effects along the way. Then the music suddenly takes on a subdued disposition with the return of AT [04:07]. This triggers memories of the opening measures [05:08] that close the movement definitively.
Stylistically speaking, the second one [T-11] is a combination passacaglia and theme with variations, which falls into three sections. The opening adagio (slow) one begins with an "upside down" version of AT (AU) [00:01] that's rather gloomy and serves as an ostinato as well the main subject for what's to come.
AU is subsequently contemplated, initiating an andante (flowing), anguished section [02:25-04:45]. Then it returns parenting an adagio (slow) third one [04:48], thereby ending this mongrel movement in quiet desperation.
Ennui turns to excitement in the last allegro deciso (decidedly fast) one [T-12]. It's a double fugue, whose first subject is an AT-reminiscent, busy, insistent ditty [00:01] soon followed by a related, more tranquil second [02:08]. Then both ideas are skillfully bandied about, and conclude the trio forcefully.
All five selections are performed by the Ober Österreichisches David Trio (Upper Austrian David Trio), which was established in 2002 on the 25th anniversary of the composer's death. Consisting of violinist Sabine Reiter, violist Peter Aigner and cellist Andreas Pözlberger, these talented musicians deliver totally committed, technically accomplished, yet highly sensitive accounts of everything here. They give us some very welcome additions to the rather small body of works in this genre.
The recordings were made a couple of years ago at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität (Anton Bruckner Private University) Music Hall located in Linz, Austria, some 100 miles west of Vienna. They consistently present an appropriately sized sonic image with the instruments centered from left to right in order of increasing size, and well balanced against one another.
The string tone is very natural. More specifically, it's characterized by pleasant highs as well as a rich midrange on top of clean lows, where there's no hint of boominess in the cello's lower registers. What's more, the overall sound is all the richer for this magnificent venue, and as good as it gets on conventional CDs. Consequently, this release earns an "Audiophile" rating.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y220131)
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Fischer-Dieskau, K.: Stg Qts Nos. 1 & 4; Albis Quartet [Arcantus]
RECOMMENDED (1 CD)
German composer Klaus Fischer-Dieskau's (1921-1994) surname will ring a bell with many Classical Music enthusiasts familiar with the recordings of his younger brother, lyric baritone Dietrich (1925-2012). That said, he was a church musician and would leave some 100 works across all genres, which include nine string quartets. Written between the early 1940s and 1992, these encompass most of his creative life. Consequently, they represent a revealing cross-section of his stylistic development.
This welcome Arcantus release gives us two of them, and it's well worth the price even though the disc's running time for these three-movement works is only fifty minutes. As detailed historical background information and musical analysis regarding each can be found in the album notes, we'll just cover their high points.
His String Quartet No. 1 in D minor (Op. 16), was apparently begun during World War II (WWII, 1939-45), while Klaus was serving as an enlisted radio operator for the Luftwaffe. But he wouldn't finish it until 1946, a year after this great conflict ended.
The allegro con fuoco (fast with fire) marked, sonata form, initial movement's [T-1] exposition (E1) begins with an ominous, scurrying preface [00:03]. It calls up an appassionato molto (very passionate), imploring first theme (A1) [00:07], succeeded by a poco calmato (little calmer), supportive second (S2) [00:50]. Then the two ideas are briefly explored and E1 is repeated [02:42].
It's followed by a captivating development that gets off to a busy start [05:21], gradually waning into a ben cantando (very songlike), E1-based fugato [06:40]. The latter parents a gently, swaying afterthought [08:00] with a reflective cello solo [08:37-09:02]. This calls up increasingly harried passages followed by a sudden pause. Then a note-for-note recapitulation of E1 [09:27] ends things full circle with a forceful "So there!" cadence [12:08].
Next, there's an andante tranquillo (tranquilly flowing), three-quarter-time, middle movement [T-2], which might best be called a "woeful waltz". Moreover, it's of funeral march disposition, and starts with a mournful, viola idea [00:01] having a lachrymose countermelody [00:30]. All this adjoins a sobbing stretto [01:49] followed by grief-stricken developmental phrases [02:16]. These invoke memories of the opening thoughts [05:14] that conclude this movement in the same mood it began.
An allegro determinato (fast and determined) marked, rondo-like "Presto" [T-3] closes the quartet. It opens with a sanguine thought [00:01], succeeded by skittering passages [00:28] that call up brisk memories of A1 [01:49]. They parent two consecutive agitated episodes [02:10 & 02:43], the last of which ends the work with a brusque, forte flourish [03:22].
The year 1978 saw the composer write his String Quartet No. 4 in A (Op. 81), which is a contrapuntal tour de force. It's sonata-form-like first movement [T-4] has a con fuoco (with fire) three-quarter-time, opening statement (OS) that begins with a busy introduction riddled with a three-note melodic cell (TM) [00:01]. TM hints at a swaying main idea (SM) that soon appears [00:25] and is followed by a songful second (SS) [01:26].
SS gives way to a harried exploration of the foregoing [02:24], followed by a caesura and SS-based, sehr getragen (very majestic) "canonical" passages [03:59]. The latter evoke allegro (fast), developmental ones [09:20], succeeded by vivacious, recapitulative memories of OS [10:51]. These close the movement with an exuberant flash of TM [13:09] and perfunctory pizzicato plunk [13:13].
A commodo ("comfortably paced") ländler is next [T-5]. This has a circumspect introduction suggesting the hemiola-tinged, captivating main melody (MM) that soon appears [00:20]. Subsequently, MM invokes an antsy, pizzicato-spiced tidbit [00:58] followed by a chorale-like canon, where the instruments play in unison [01:28-02:42]. Then a reinvigorated MM returns [02:43] and wanes into whimsical afterthoughts [03:59] that end things expeditiously.
The last movement [T-6] begins adagio (slow) with a pious hymnlike idea (PH) [00:01], which is subsequently subjected to four variational treatments. The first is a presto spiccato (fast and flippant), rhythmically flighty one [02:16]. Then there's an adagio (slow) penitent second [02:51] and recitative-like third [05:09]. After that, a vivo (lively) dancing number [06:40] ends the quartet with a fortissimo, pizzicato "So there!" cadence [08:36].
The performances are by the Albis Quartet (AQ), which the composer's granddaughter, violinist Sophie Tangermann, established to record these works. At that time, she and her three associates (second violinist Gertraud Lohmeier, violist Maria Jadziewicz and cellist Fermin Villanueva) were all working in Magdeburg, Germany, located on the Elbe River some 90 miles west-southwest of Berlin. Back in medieval times this great waterway was known as the "Albis", and accordingly she named her new ensemble after that.
These four talented musicians deliver articulate, sensitive readings of both works, which will probably be the definitive accounts of them for some time to come. Hopefully the AQ will give us Klaus's remaining seven quartets.
Both recordings were made during November 2020 at the Andreaskirche (Andreas Church) in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, and present a generous soundstage in affable surroundings. More specifically, the instruments are centered from left to right in order of increasing size, and well balanced against one another.
The sound is generally good with the string tone characterized by occasionally wiry highs, a pleasant midrange, and clean bass where there's no boom in the cello's lower registers. That said, some listeners may feel a closer, more intimate sound might have revealed additional subtleties in this intricate chamber music.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, P220130)
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Wranitzky, Paul: Orch Wks V3 (Sym in D "La Chasse", Sym in C, Mitgefühl Ov, Die gute... Ov); tilec/CzPard ChPO [Naxos]
AUDIOPHILE (1 CD)
Thanks to the enterprising Naxos label, here's a third volume (see 31 May and 31 October 2021) in their ongoing series of discs devoted to Paul Wranitzky's (1756-1808) orchestral works. This installment gives us two more symphonies plus another couple of opera overtures, these being world premiere recordings and the only versions currently available on disc.
The program starts with the Overture to his one-act Liederspiel of 1804 titled Mirgefül (Compassion; not currently available on disc) [T-1]. It has an underlying story about young lovers Niklas and Marie, who have fathers that are respectively rapacious as opposed to philanthropic. However, the good deeds of Marie's dad instill a sense of compassion in Niklas's.
The work here has a poignant, adagio (slow) introduction [00:01] hinting at a stern, seven-note motif (SM) that will soon appear and eventually power the opera's final chorus. Then after an anticipatory pause, there's a sonata-form, allegro (fast) closing section with an initial scurrying tune [01:25] followed by SM [01:38]. These ideas undergo an exciting, contrapuntally spiced development [03:21], succeeded by a dramatic recap [05:12] having an SM-based, festive coda [07:55], which ends things with a cadential "So there!" flourish [08:17].
Next up, his Symphony in D major "La Chasse (The Hunt)" (Op. 25; published 1793). Do you suppose he got the idea for it from Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) who'd taught him and written one with that same subtitle (Symphony No. 73 in D major, H 1/73; 1782). In any case, Wranitzky's is his revised version of around 1800, where he augmented the scoring to include trumpets as well as one of those extra-large timpani known as a timpanone.
In four movements, the first is an allegro maestoso (fast and majestic), sonata-form creation [T-2]. Its opening statement features a haughty, militant thematic nexus (HM) [00:00], followed by a delicate countermelody (DC) [01:24] and HM-tinged postscript [02:02]. Then there's a deceptive pause, after which HM initiates a tempestuous development [02:47] and stirring recapitulation [04:31]. The latter has a rousing DC-HM-based coda [07:29] that closes the movement in the same spirit it began.
The next one is a captivating Menuetto (Minuet) [T-3]. This has allegretto (lively) outer sections featuring an HM-reminiscent, courtly tune [00:00], surrounding a delicate trio [01:40-02:59] based on a related thought. Subsequently, there's a lovely, Adagio (Slow), A-B-A-structured movement [T-4], where pastoral "A"s bracket an austere, HM-reminiscent "B" [01:53-02:49]. The last "A" [02:50] is replete with avian woodwind calls and ends things full circle.
Then there's an allegro (fast) marked sonata-rondo titled La Caccia (The Hunt) [T-5], whose opening statement begins with a hunting fanfare (HF) for the brass [00:00]. This is followed by a tension-building caesura and Mannheim Crescendo [00:11-00:26] that launches an HF-derived, venatic idea (HV) [00:27]. HV is explored and after a pause there's a related, songlike countermelody (HS) [01:11].
HS initiates developmental, "rondoesque" passages, where it's chased about by HF and HV. Then recapitulative, reminders of HF [03:37], HV [03:58] and HS [04:21] call up a triumphant coda [05:19], which concludes the work definitively with two forte chords [05:43].
The year 1795 saw Wranitzky complete a two-act opera titled Die gute Mutter (The Good Mother; not currently available on disc), which the album notes say is an adaptation of a French play called La Bonne mère (The Good Mother; no background information readily available). Be that as it may, the storyline centers around a widow named Rosalia and her daughter Marianne.
More specifically, this young maid is being courted by a local coxcomb, consequently she's rejected the attentions of a much more suitable, neighborhood boy. However, in the end Mom gets Marianne to see the error of her ways, and presumably everyone lived happily ever after.
That said, the overture is our next selection [T-6]. A brief, allegro vivace (fast and spirited) piece, it sets the stage for the opening scene, where local villagers are preparing to do a merry circle dance. Consequently, this selection is a swirling, spirited cavort based on country dance tunes that we're told also appear in the opera's final chorus.
A few months ago we told you about the first as well as third of Paul's Drei grosse Sinfonien (Three large Symphonies; see 31 May and 31 October 2021). Now here's the middle one, i.e., his Symphony in C major (Op. 33, No. 2; published 1798).
In four movements, this has thematic material, which the composer borrowed from some of his music for various stage works. That said, the initial, allegro maestoso (fast and majestic), sonata-form one [T-7] is derived from his first-act overture for the 1794 play Siri Brahe oder Die Neugierigen (Siri Brahe, or the Curious; no further information readily available).
Its opening statement (O1) begins with a regal, four-note descending motive (RD) [00:00] that begets a busy thematic group succeeded by a related, tender melodic one (RT) [01:13]. Then O1 is repeated [02:43], after which FB initiates a dramatic development [05:15] and recapitulation [06:43] having an FB-based coda [09:13] that ends the movement forcefully.
The adagio (slow) one [T-8] is a scion of Paul's third-act overture for German dramatist-writer August von Kotzebue's (1761-1819) romantic tragedy Die Spannier in Peru oder Rollas Tod (The Spanish in Peru, or the death of Rolla; 1795). It's a beguiling serenade that gets underway with muted strings and delicate winds intoning a captivating tune (CT) [00:00] adjoining a lovely countermelody [00:55]. These are contemplated and CT-based, atavistic horn calls initiate more forceful developmental passages [04:51] as well as a valiant, closing coda [09:37].
Then there's a dapper Menuetto (Minuet) [T-9] with allegretto (lively) outer sections featuring an RT-colored, brisk number [00:00]. They frame a delicate, waltz trio [02:23-03:19] based on a related idea, and provide a brief diversion before the closing Finale [T-10].
The latter has an andante (flowing) introduction [00:00] that appeared earlier as the overture to the composer's 1794 ballet Die Weinlese (The Grape Harvest; no recording or further information currently available). It's comprised of a bucolic tune (BT), which sounds like something that a Central-European shepherd might play on one of those local bagpipes known as a bock (hear).
This fetching morsel is immediately followed by the movement's main body, which is an allegro (fast), sonata-form utterance. Its opening statement (O4) has two, BT-related ideas that are respectively vivacious (BV) [01:19] and rather fidgety (BF) [01:50]. Then O4 is reexamined [03:12], giving way to a chatty development [05:02], succeeded by a BV-initiated, exciting recap [06:07]. The latter has a BF-BV-parented coda [07:47], which ends the work and this disc joyfully.
Like those on the two earlier Wranitzky volumes (see 31 May and 31 October 2021), these performances are by the Czech Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra (CPCPO) under conductor Marek tilec (b. 1985). As before, they deliver committed, enthusiastic accounts of more symphonic rarities by this too long forgotten composer.
The recordings were made during June-July 2020 in the same warm venue that housed their predecessors, namely the Dukla Culture House located in Pardubice, Czech Republic, some 70 miles north of the composer's home town of Nová Říe. They project a similar sonic image, where the sound is about as good as it gets on conventional CDs.
-- Bob McQuiston, Classical Lost and Found (CLOFO.com, Y220129)
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