Gerhard completed his unnumbered Symphony "Homanaje a Pedrell" twelve years before his Symphony No 1 (1952-3). Its genesis may have been a long drawn-out affair, the opening movement suggesting that is did not begin as a symphony. Perhaps as early as 1922, the year of Felipe Pedrell’s death, Gerhard began to contemplate this tribute to his revered teacher with whom he studied from 1915 to 1920. The tribute is based on ……
Gerhard was commissioned to write his Fourth Symphony in 1966 by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and it was first performed in New York on December of that year, conducted by William Steinberg. The following year the score was revised for its continental premiere. In terms of orchestral forces, Gerhard made the most of the commission and scored it for quadruple woodwind, six horns, four trumpets, four trombones, tuba, celesta, piano, two harps, four timpani, four percussion players and full string orchestra. The overall form of the symphony is extremely ….
Gerhard was one of last century's major composers, and his Third Symphony is one of the first and most successful works to incorporate electronic sounds into a live orchestral context. It's very difficult to describe exactly what this music sounds like–it's not tonal, certainly, but it's also very attractive as pure sound, and there are recurring ideas ("gestures" or "structures" may best describe them) that unify the musical argument. To that extent, the music is certainly "difficult," but it would be wrong to assume that it's difficulty is a function of some fiendish complexity designed to mystify the listener…….David Hurwitz @ Amazon.com
The opening evening of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Das Rheingold is the prologue of the cycle, which is followed in turn by the music dramas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. The first instalment in Jaap van Zweden's projected Ring with the Hong Kong Philharmonic – an undertaking he regards as central to his tenure with the orchestra – is a promising beginning that may surprise many experienced Wagnerians. Van Zweden is ambitious in presenting the Ring with this orchestra, which plays it for the first time, though in fairness to the musicians, they offer an intensity and vigor that more than makes up for any minor scrappiness.
The sixth volume in Matthias Goerne's survey of Franz Schubert's lieder includes the posthumous collection Schwanengesang, which contains some of the loveliest and most disturbing songs Schubert ever composed. One problem in performing this ambiguous work of Schubert's last year lies in its alternation of sweet, lyrical songs with those of a much darker and even frightening character, and it's left to the singer and the pianist to balance the moods and to make the contrasts of expression as subtle as possible. Goerne and his accompanist Christoph Eschenbach meet the challenge by carefully shading the songs with a tempering of expressions that admits sorrow in the midst of joy and hope in the depths of despair.