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
An invaluable single-disc survey of Mendelssohn’s organ music, including not only works originally conceived for the instrument but also arrangements to display the majestic tonal possibilities of a fine Dutch instrument as well as the virtuosity of one of the most talented young organists in the Netherlands…
This beautiful programme, recorded in 2014, brings us back to the Golden Age of the Netherlands, the 16th and 17th century, in which cultural life blossomed thanks to the economical prosperity brought by the overseas trade. Wealthy merchants commissioned works by artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Ruischdael and others. Also musical life flourished, and musicians from all over Europe came to hear and study with Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck. Organist Matthias Havinga selected a beautiful bouquet of works by Dutch composers: Sweelinck, Van Noordt, Schuyt, Havingha (an ancient ancestor of the artist..?) and others. Havinga plays a magnificent Faber/Blank organ from 1651, located in the Jacobuskerk in Zeerijp. Matthias Havinga won several international organ competitions and his two previous recordings for Brilliant Classics (Bach Italian Concertos BC94203 and Passacaglias BC9269) have won great critical acclaim in the international press. The booklet contains extensive liner notes written by the artist, information on the organ and its specifications and an artist biography in English, Dutch and German.
Luciano Berio's most celebrated and influential work is his Sinfonia for 8 amplified voices and orchestra (1968), a tour de force of musical quotations and collages, literary references, and social commentary that he composed for The Swingle Singers and the New York Philharmonic on the occasion of the orchestra's 125th anniversary. This composition has received noteworthy performances by Berio, Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Riccardo Chailly, Hannu Lintu, and now Josep Pons, who leads the Synergy Vocals and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for this important release on Harmonia Mundi.
Conjuratio, Mirare's collection of music by German composer Matthias Weckmann, brings to light a body of work that deserves far greater attention than it has received to date. Weckmann was a student of Heinrich Schutz and rose through the ranks to become one of the leading musicians of Hamburg. He was the organist at two major churches and founded the city's Collegium Musicum. Much of the music heard here, admirably performed by the Ricercar Consort led by Philippe Pierlot, was inspired by Weckmann's experiences associated with a terrible epidemic of plague that decimated Hamburg in 1663. Among its victims were his wife and many friends and colleagues. These tragic events inspired him to write inspired works that evoke images of desolation and destruction, but also struggle and hope.