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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Arthur Honegger - Symphony No. 4; Summer Pastoral; A Christmas Cantata (Vladimir Jurowski)


Information

Composer: Arthur Honegger
  1. Pastorale d'été (Summer Pastoral)
  2. Symphony No. 4 "Deliciae Basilienses": Lento e misterioso - Allegro
  3. Symphony No. 4 "Deliciae Basilienses": Larghetto
  4. Symphony No. 4 "Deliciae Basilienses": Allegro
  5. Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata): De profundis clamavi
  6. Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata): Ne craignez point
  7. Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata): Laudate Dominum omnes gentes

Christopher Maltman, baritone
London Philharmonic Choir; Neville Creed, chorus master
New London Children's Choir; Ronald Corp, choir master
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Jurowski, conductor
Date: 2007 (1-4), 2009 (5-7)
Label: LPO

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Review

While there is strength to some of Honegger’s works, not least his oratorio Le roi David and the orchestral Pacific 231 and Symphonie liturgique (his Symphony No 3), this curious disc seems intent, for the most part, on suggesting that he possessed an uncommon ability to induce catalepsy in his listeners. The Fourth Symphony of 1946, written to a commission from his Swiss compatriot Paul Sacher, is subtitled Deliciae basiliensis – the Delights of Basle – and is crafted with impeccable, watchmaker precision in terms of some interesting rhythmic syncopations and, in general, a bristling command of instrumental timbre. However, the moments that catch the ear are interspersed with others where Honegger seems to be treading water, or where he seems to be flexing his contrapuntal muscles in a clever-clever way or making a stab at humour.

What a strange conundrum the symphony is, but the LPO play it as though they meant every note. It was recorded live at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall (while the Festival Hall was still closed for renovation) in March 2007, along with the Pastoral d’été of 1920. That was the year in which the iconoclastic group of Les Six, in which Honegger was included, really came into being, but Pastorale d’été shows him clinging on to sounds of the 19th century, not without some skill but with little to identify him as a distinctive voice. The well-made, heartfelt and ultimately jubilant Une cantate de Noël of 1953, recorded at the RFH in 2009, is altogether more uplifting.

-- Geoffrey Norris, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2012/Feb12/HoneggerPastorale_LPO0058.htm
http://www.classicalsource.com/db_control/db_cd_review.php?id=9829
https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/nov/10/honegger-pastorale-ete-cantate-review
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Honegger-Pastorale-Symphony-Cantate-LPO-0058/dp/B005OZDXY6
https://www.amazon.com/Honegger-Pastoral-Symphony-Christmas-Cantata/dp/B005OZDXY6

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Arthur Honegger (10 March 1892 – 27 November 1955) was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les Six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which was inspired by the sound of a steam locomotive. His style is weightier and more solemn than that of his colleagues in Les Six.

***

Vladimir Jurowski (born 4 April 1972 in Moscow, Russia) is a Russian conductor. In May 2006, Jurowski was announced as the 11th Principal Conductor of the LPO. His contract was furthered through 2018. In September 2015, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra announced the appointment of Jurowski as its next chief conductor, effective with the 2017-2018 season.

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Arthur Honegger - Orchestral Works (Michel Plasson)


Information

Composer: Arthur Honegger
  1. Prélude pour "La Tempête" de Shakespeare
  2. Pastorale d'été - Poème symphonique
  3. Horace victorieux - Symphonie mimée pour orchestre
  4. Pacific 231 - Mouvement symphonique No. 1
  5. Rugby - Mouvement symphonique No. 2
  6. Mermoz - Suite No. 1 "La Traversée des Andes"
  7. Mermoz - Suite No. 2 "Le Vol sur l'Atlantique"

Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse
Michel Plasson, conductor
Date: 1991
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4354382

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Review

Honegger's centenary year has deservedly brought his music back into wider circulation, and I welcome these pieces. While every student knows of Pacific 231, and the charming Pastorale d'ete is fairly often played, some of the others are rarities, and although La traversee des Andes and Le vol sur l'Atlantique have been recorded recently. Horace victorieux is new to the catalogue and also to my ears.

This latter work is a ''mimed symphony for orchestra'', in other words a ballet, although its first performance in 1921 was in concert and it was not staged until 1927. The story, set in ancient Rome and first told by Livy, may be an ancestor of Romeo and Juliet; it tells of the opposing Horatii and Curiatii families and features a love interest in the person of Horatius's sister Camilla, whose love for a member of the other family leads to her death at her brother's hands. On first acquaintance, I must confess that this 20-minute score seems to me undistinguished, written in an all-purpose dramatic language and rather crudely scored. I doubt if it will have lasting interest except to specialists. Yet there are better things that are typical of Honegger, such as the gently pastoral flute solo at the seven-minute mark, and the work deserves a place in the catalogue.

This performance is polished and persuasive and indeed, Plasson and his Toulouse orchestra are on strong form throughout the disc, with Pastorale d'ete wonderfully atmospheric. Although inevitably the onomatopoeic element in Pacific 231 makes this musical evocation of a steam locomotive rough-edged, Plasson's performance is musicianly and makes a good case for the work. The same is true of Rugby, which the composer identified as expressing his enthusiasm for the game's disordered and ''distressed … attacks and repulses''—though I think it unlikely that it was sung in the Lions' or All Blacks' changing rooms! La traversee des Andes and Le vol sur l'Atlantique both come from a film called Mermoz (1943): these are related miniature suites of film sequences that are effective, if not very individual.

-- Christopher Headington, Gramophone

More reviews:
http://www.classical-music.com/review/honegger-0
https://www.amazon.com/Pacific-231-Horace-Victorieux-Honegger/dp/B00000E535

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Arthur Honegger (10 March 1892 – 27 November 1955) was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les Six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which was inspired by the sound of a steam locomotive. His style is weightier and more solemn than that of his colleagues in Les Six.

***

Michel Plasson (born 2 October 1933, Paris, France) is a French conductor. Plasson was principal conductor of the Orchestre et Chœurs du Capitole de Toulouse from 1968 to 2003 and now has the title of "Honorary Conductor", or conductor emeritus. Plasson's recordings were mainly made for EMI/Virgin, and focused upon works by French composers.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Arthur Honegger - Symphonies Nos. 3 & 5; Pacific 231 (Neeme Järvi)


Information

Composer: Arthur Honegger
  1. Symphony No. 5 in D major "Di Tre Re", H202: 1. Grave
  2. Symphony No. 5 in D major "Di Tre Re", H202: Allegretto - Adagio - Allegretto - Adagio - Allegretto
  3. Symphony No. 5 in D major "Di Tre Re", H202: 3. Allegro marcato
  4. Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique", H186: 1. Dies irae. Allegro marcato
  5. Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique", H186: 2. De profundis clamavi. Adagio
  6. Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique", H186: 3. Dona nobis pacem. Andante
  7. Pacific 231 (Mouvement symphonique No. 1), H53

Danish National Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Järvi, conductor
Date: 1992
Label: Chandos
http://www.theclassicalshop.net/Details.aspx?CatalogueNumber=CHAN%209176

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Review

Though seldom encountered in the concert-hall, the Honegger symphonies are decently represented on CD. There are complete cycles by Dutoit (Erato), Plasson (EMI), Baudo (Supraphon) and numerous individual symphonies, most notably Karajan's Berlin Philharmonic coupling of Nos. 2 and 3. When I first heard the Fifth in the early 1950s I was immediately struck by the resemblance of the opening bars (with their triads in contrary motion) to Milhaud's Moses and have long wondered whether it was a deliberate tribute or merely fortuitous. Not even Harry Halbreich's important new study (Fayard: 1992) resolves it. Be that as it may, the Fifth remains one of Honegger's most individual scores, and this new recording from Neeme Jarvi and the Danish Radio orchestra serves it well. Unlike Charles Dutoit and the Bavarian Radio orchestra, there is nothing restrained here and even if the finale does not quite match the sheer exhilaration and gusto of Serge Baudo's wonderful Supraphon account from the early 1960s (which now sounds far more full bodied in its new transfer), the Jarvi is not far behind: moreover it is very well recorded. So, too, is the rest of the programme and although the playing of the Danish orchestra for Jarvi in the Symphonie Liturgique does not outshine that of the Berlin Philharmonic for Karajan this is a thoroughly convincing and to my ears compelling account. The Pacific 231 also thunders mightily along the track though not quite as speedily as it did for Honegger himself (now available on Pearl). Recommended.

-- Robert Layton, Gramophone

More reviews:

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Arthur Honegger (10 March 1892 – 27 November 1955) was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les Six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which was inspired by the sound of a steam locomotive. His style is weightier and more solemn than that of his colleagues in Les Six.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Honegger

***

Neeme Järvi (born June 7, 1937) is an Estonian conductor. He made over 400 recordings for labels such as BIS, Chandos and Deutsche Grammophon and best known for his interpretations of Romantic and 20th century classical music. Järvi is currently the artistic and musical director of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Järvi and his wife Liilia have three children, the conductors Paavo Järvi and Kristjan Järvi, and flautist Maarika Järvi.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neeme_J%C3%A4rvi

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Arthur Honegger - Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 (Herbert von Karajan)


Information

Composer: Arthur Honegger; Igor Stravinsky
  1. Honegger - Symphony No. 2 for strings & trumpet ad lib in D major, H153: 1. Molto moderato - Allegro
  2. Honegger - Symphony No. 2 for strings & trumpet ad lib in D major, H153: 2. Adagio mesto
  3. Honegger - Symphony No. 2 for strings & trumpet ad lib in D major, H153: 3. Vivace non troppo
  4. Honegger - Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique", H186: 1. Dies irae. Allegro marcato
  5. Honegger - Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique", H186: 2. De profundis clamavi. Adagio
  6. Honegger - Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique", H186: 3. Dona nobis pacem. Andante
  7. Stravinsky - Concerto in D "Basle", for string orchestra: 1. Vivace
  8. Stravinsky - Concerto in D "Basle", for string orchestra: 2. Arioso (Andantino)
  9. Stravinsky - Concerto in D "Basle", for string orchestra: 3. Rondo (Allegro)

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Herbert von Karajan, conductor
Date: 1969
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4474352


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Review


ARTISTIC QUALITY: 10 / SOUND QUALITY: 8

Although Herbert von Karajan probably would have wanted to be remembered as a great conductor in the central German repertoire, his best orchestral recordings often were in pieces that stood outside of his "Fach". This Honegger disc is certainly one of them. It seems like only yesterday that DG reissued it in its "Originals" series, but now thanks to Arkivmusic.com's on-demand program with Universal it hopefully will be available forever.

The Second Symphony, for strings and trumpet, features simply astounding playing from the Berlin Philharmonic, with an impact and sonority that the orchestra certainly can't equal today. The "Liturgique" also has an uncommon degree of bite and excitement; there's none of that excessive smoothness that made Karajan sometimes sound like the "snake oil salesman of music". Stravinsky's Concerto in D probably is his coldest, most sterile creation (leaving aside some of the very late pieces), and this gracefully immaculate performance suits its "pure" aesthetic to perfection. Very good sonics, again better than Karajan often got from the yellow label, complement one of his very finest efforts.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday


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Arthur Honegger (10 March 1892 – 27 November 1955) was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les Six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which was inspired by the sound of a steam locomotive. His style is weightier and more solemn than that of his colleagues in Les Six.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Honegger

***

Herbert von Karajan (5 April 1908 – 16 July 1989) was an Austrian conductor. He was principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic for 35 years. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century. He made a large number of recordings and was the top-selling classical music recording artist of all time, having sold an estimated 200 million records. He was admired and also criticized for his over polished sound of the orchestras he conducted.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_von_Karajan

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Arnold Cooke; Havergal Brian - Symphonies (Myer Fredman; Nicholas Braithwaite)


Information

Composer: Havergal Brian; Arnold Cooke
  1. Brian - Symphony No. 6 "Sinfonia tragica"
  2. Brian - Symphony No. 16
  3. Cooke - Symphony No. 3 in D major: I. Allegro Energico
  4. Cooke - Symphony No. 3 in D major: II. Lento
  5. Cooke - Symphony No. 3 in D major: III. Allegro

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Myer Fredman, conductor (1, 2)
Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor (3-5)

Date: 1973 (1, 2), 1974 (3-5)
Label: Lyrita
http://www.wyastone.co.uk/brian-symphonies-nos-6-16-cooke-symphony-no-3.html


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Arnold Cooke - Orchestral Works (Nicholas Braithwaite)


Information

Composer: Arnold Cooke
  1. Concerto in D for string orchestra: I. Allegro
  2. Concerto in D for string orchestra: II. Andante sostenuto
  3. Concerto in D for string orchestra: III. Allegro
  4. Symphony No. 1: I. Allegro moderato
  5. Symphony No. 1: II. Scherzo: Molto vivace
  6. Symphony No. 1: III. Lento, ma non troppo
  7. Symphony No. 1: IV. Allegro
  8. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: I. Introduction
  9. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: II. The Devil's Dance
  10. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: III. Fiddle Polka
  11. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: IV. Waltz
  12. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: V. Dance of Devils
  13. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: VI. Slow Dance
  14. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: VII. Percussion Dance
  15. Jabez and the Devil, ballet suite: VIII. Finale

London Philharmonic Orchestra
Nicholas Braithwaite, conductor

Dates: 1974 (8-15), 1988 (1-3), 1989 (4-7)
Label: Lyrita
http://www.wyastone.co.uk/cooke-symphony-no-1-jabez-and-the-devil-suite.html


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