7 November 2016

Mengelberg in the music of Dutch composers of his time:

Willem Mengelberg Concertgebouw Orchestra: Niederländische Komponisten. Works of Valerius/Wagenaar, Dopper, Röntgen, Hendrik Andriessen, Rudolf Mengelberg, Wagenaar, Marnix von St. Aldegonde/Mengelberg. Teldec 243 723-2 (1988), King Record K30Y 256 (1988)

The Mengelberg Edition vol. 13. Alexander Voormolen: Sinfonia, Cornelis Dopper: Symphony No. 7 “Zuidezee”, Gothic Chaconne. Archive Documents ADCD 119 (2001)

Dopper’s Ciaconna Gotica (Mengelberg’s 1940 studio recording for Telefunken is the shared piece on both discs) is the masterpiece there. I’m intrigued by this Cornelis Dopper. There was a famous episode in 1918 when he was derided by his more forward-looking colleague Matthijs Vermeulen for sounding like Sousa but, while certainly not avant-garde, the music is way more modern than that. It traverses many moods with a great freedom of form which makes it at times difficult to concentrate on, but I suspect that it’s the kind of music that grows on you with more familiarity. I may explore Dopper further.

While doing some fact-checking on these two CDs (a lot!), I chanced on the great online archive of the Concertgebouw Orchestra: as with the similar archive of the New York Philharmonic, you can find the info about every concert given by the orchestra since the end of the 19th century. For instance, what else was given at the famous 1939 concert in which Mengelberg premiered Bartók’s Violin Concerto with Zoltán Székely? Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony. Or how many times did Mengelberg conduct works of Dopper? 88 concerts (although why Bach’s cantata BWV 51 for soprano and trumpet appears six times remains unexplained to me), including Symphonies Nos 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7, Ciaconna Gotica 40 times. And since Archive Documents did not provide the recording dates of its material but only mentioned that the live performance of Voormolen’s Sinfonia was its premiere, it enabled me to find datings. Invaluable.

Comments are welcome