3 November 2016

Haven’t posted in the last few days but it doesn’t mean that I was idle. Pursuing my exploration of the music of Louis Andriessen, I pulled out Globe’s 6-CD tribute to the first 50 years of the Holland Festival, 1947-1997, Globe 6901-5, barcode  8711525690004, which I had recently bought from an eBay seller (and in the process I just realized that I had already bought the set a few years ago, and had forgotten about it, because I hadn’t listened yet). Among those 6 CDs there is one devoted to contemporary Dutch composers. The few Andriessen pieces featured there are absolutely appalling. Good that I didn’t discover Andriessen through that CD, I would have ruled him out forever. I started taking many notes, but I don’t know when I’ll publish a review of the set as a whole, because it contains many things, scenes from operas, bits of Lied recitals, that are way out of my interests and expertise. As a whole I find the set disappointing, because, precisely, it offers tidbits rather than complete programs, and ultimately it is very frustrating for everything that it leaves out. It is great, but also a great frustration, that the Concertgebouw Orchestra has, like the New York Philharmonic, a very comprehensive online archive which enables you to know, precisely, what else was played at the concerts from which Globe offers excerpts in their CD 5-6, “the Concertgebouw with famous guest conductors”. Like, yeah, fine to have Wagenaar’s Cyrano de Bergerac overture conducted by Szell in 1947, but at the same concert Szell gave Mahler’s Das Lied with Ferrier and Patzak! Now on what forgotten shelf is that diamond gathering dust? There is no other recording of Das Lied in Szell’s studio or live discography! Or the Adagio from the 10th Symphony conducted by Giulini in 1979 following the Webern Five Pieces op. 10 offered here. There was a video of Giulini conducting the same piece in LA that had been posted on YouTube, but it has been removed due to copyright infringement, and so far as I know there is no other version in Giulini’s live discography. Or even the Schubert 6th conducted by Boulez after the same Webern also offered by Globe in his 1961 concert – that too would have been a rarity in the Boulez discography, while the Webern is certainly not!

So the most valuable things in the set are the 1979 world premiere of Xenakis’ Anemoessa for chorus and orchestra, not otherwise recorded and a composition of extraordinary power, the fragment left by Claude Vivier unfinished on his worktable when he was brutally murdered in 1983 in Paris by the male prostitute he had just picked up in a bar, and with an ominous title too, “Glaubst do an die Unsterblichkeit der Seele” (“Do you believe in the immortality of the soul?”), and a Mahler Fourth with Schwarzkopf and Walter with the Concertgebouw Orchestra from 1952 – not that we are in dearth of live versions of Mahler’s Fourth conducted by Walter, including his Vienna Farewell Concert of 1960 with the same Schwarzkopf, but any testimony of that conductor in the works of that composer is welcome, especially one with the mighty Concertgebouw.

And with all that I discovered and reviewed what is to my ears an unknown masterpiece by an unknown composer, even in his native Netherlands: Daniël de Lange’s a cappella Requiem from 1868. See Daniël de Lange: Requiem. Alphons Diepenbrock: Cælestis Urbs Jerusalem. Julius Röntgen: Motetten. Netherlands Chamber Choir, Uwe Gronostay. NM Classics 92039 (1994)

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