Monday, October 20, 2008
The Russian Schoenberg
In October last year I revealed here exclusively that Hyperion were recording the Violin Concertos of the Russian Schoenberg, Mikolai (Nikolay) Roslavets, played by Alina Ibragimova. That CD is now scheduled for November 2008 release and the sleeve is seen above. For years the dated artwork on Hyperion CDs has been their only weakness, so the 'new look' for this release is particularly welcome. There is more on Roslavets claim to be the originator of serial composition in my earlier article. Judge for yourself whether he was the Russian Schoenberg by listening to the generous audio samples om the Hyperion website.
Hyperion and other independents continue to show the major labels how it should be done. In January 2009 Hyperion are re-releasing at mid-price a double CD of the complete symphonies of the French composer Albéric Magnard who was born in 1865. Magnard's compositions include the four symphonies, an opera (Guercoeur) and a string quartet. He moved from Paris to the peaceful Oise area of France to continue composing and was living there when the First World War broke out. As the German forces approached the area in 1914 he sent his wife and two daughters to safety. After shooting two German soldiers who approached his property he refused to surrender. His house was set on fire and the blaze consumed almost of all his manuscripts and art collection as well as Magnard himself. Something to reflect on, perhaps, for some of today's self-styled dissident composers?
I came to know Magnard's music through a 1983 EMI Pathé LP of the Fourth Symphony made by Michel Plasson conducting the Orchestra of the Capitole, Toulouse. The coupling is Magnard's Chant Funèbre Op. 9, a magnificent fifteen minute tone poem which is crying out for an enterprising orchestra to programme. Also in my LP collection is a French Decca LP recorded in 1969 of Magnard's Third Symphony by Ernest Amsermet with his legendary Orchestra of the Suisse Romande.
The Toulouse cycle of the Magnard Symphonies has also been transferred to CD. But Plasson's account of the Fourth Symphony in the original German Teldec DMM vinyl pressings plays on my Thorens TD125 turntable as I write, and it sounds pre-digital terrific. The work dates from 1896, and it certainly isn't proto-Schoenberg. But, as they say on Amazon, if you like the red-blooded romanticism of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Symphony in F, which was composed 50 years later, you'll like this. But decide for yourself via Hyperion's samples from all of the symphonies. The orchestra for both the Roslavets and Magnard releases is the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra who, like Hyperion, continue to show the big names how it should be done.
There is a final vinyl link in the Hyperion release schedule. November 2008 brings the new recording of Wilhelm Stenhammar's piano music seen below. I featured BIS' cycle of Stenhammar Symphonies on LPs in my recent post, Excelsior!
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