Music by Danish composer Anders Koppel (b 1947) springs from disparate musical influences. He was trained as a clarinetist and pianist, and since his father Herman was a composer and pianist, Anders grew up in a classical environment. But he also spent years in an experimental rock band. His musical language is tonal, with pungent dissonance, and his harmonies take interesting turns. Of the three concertos offered here, the Sinfonia Concertante (2007) for violin, viola, clarinet, bassoon, and orchestra is the most absorbing.
Something of Vagn Holmboe's approach to writing concertos may be discerned in his numeration: they are not grouped according to the solo instrument (e.g., Piano Concerto No. 1), but counted merely as Concertos in the sequence of their composition, regardless of the featured instruments. This suggests that the soloist's role is somewhat altered: still central as a leading part, but frequently incorporated into the orchestral mass as a coloristic instrument among many others. The Concerto No. 1 for piano and orchestra, Op. 17 (1939), clearly demonstrates Holmboe's procedure, for the piano switches back and forth between lyrical solos and more emphatically rhythmic passages as a percussion instrument. Holmboe's Concerto No. 3 for clarinet and orchestra, Op. 21 (1940-1942), also presents interesting mixtures of the instrument's distinctive tone with other timbres, most strikingly with the brass section. The Concerto No. 7 for oboe and orchestra, Op. 37 (1944-1945), is most beguiling in the many chamber-like, concertino combinations of the oboe with other woodwinds. Pianist Noriko Ogawa, clarinetist Martin Frost, and oboist Gordon Hunt strike the right balance with conductor Owain Arwel Hughes and the Ålborg Symphony Orchestra, since all give prominence to the leading part where Holmboe indicates, but equal attention to the ever-shifting background textures.
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
Barenboim has many of the attributes of a major Schumann conductor. [He] gives ample reign to the tremendous high spirits of this Spring symphony. This is outstanding Schumann playing by any standards. -Gramophone