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Thread: Neglected German and Austrian orchestral composers and works of the late romantic era

  1. #361
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    A new release from Hyperion (Romantic Piano Concerto series, No. 79) has the premiere recording of Tag- und Nachtstueke, Op. 44 (1933-34) for piano and orchestra by the notable Walter Braunfels, a work that received its first performance only in 2017. It is coupled with a new performance of Hans Pfitzner's Piano Concerto in E-flat major, Op. 31 (1922). Both are performed by Markus Becker with the RSO Berlin led by Constantin Trinks. I've only heard samples, but this recording has received excellent reviews for both works and performances. Braunfels evokes day and night in his atmospheric five-movement concertante work. It comes from the years when the National Socialist government was establishing itself and the composer was lying low; later it was overlooked in the family's archives. The four-movement Pfitzner was discussed in Post #243; now it's worth listening to a new fine-sounding version of this work. As mentioned earlier the Adagio is particularly good; Returning to it I somehow an "alienated persona" (i.e. of the composer?) in certain solo passages so that's a notion to pursue ...
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Sep-12-2019 at 20:40.

  2. #362
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Knox View Post
    I heard the Symphony in B Minor (1909) by composer, conductor, and music scholar Fritz Volbach(1861-1940) some time ago and was impressed, despite the queasy audio on the recording by the Philharmonia Hungarica/Gilbert Varga. After three more hearings I think it's the best of the late romantic symphonies I've heard recently! The first movement's multi-layered opening, affecting song theme, and developmental counterpoint are excellent; same with the imaginative scherzo with its 3 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 3 opening beat (likely a folk-dance from points east) alternating with a waltz, and the heart-on-sleeve slow and final movements that I admire too. His earlier symphonic poem Es waren zwei Koenigskinder is more traditional, again with fine melodies and expressive harmonies. No identifying information for performers is given with this upload:

    https://www.dlmusicas.xyz/mp3/Bom-Cabedal.html

    Volbach wore several hats, and was a prolific author of composer biographies. He composed two other symphonic poems, and one might wish there were more symphonies since obviously he had the right stuff. I hope there are better recordings somewhere and will keep looking.
    Now there is a very fine recording on CPO of this symphony along with Es waren zwei Königskinder. I listened to the symphony and I concur with you: this is a knock-out!! Seriously, this is one of the most epic symphonies I've listened to recently, it's really impressive throughout. The 3rd movement is unabashedly magnificent, such a superb creation. The performance is just shattering, bringing the work in all its glory. Supremely recommended for fans of this kind of works.

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  4. #363
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    Quote Originally Posted by MusicSybarite View Post
    ... Seriously, this is one of the most epic symphonies I've listened to recently, it's really impressive throughout...
    Great to hear there is finally a new recording! Given your knowledge of this area of repertoire, this is a major compliment to the little-known Volbach.

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  6. #364
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Knox View Post
    Great to hear there is finally a new recording! Given your knowledge of this area of repertoire, this is a major compliment to the little-known Volbach.
    Haha! He deserves it and much more. This is the kind of stuff that makes me very excited. Very sad there are no many available works other than the aforementioned ones.

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    R.I.P. Werner Andreas Albert 1935-2019

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Knox View Post
    R.I.P. Werner Andreas Albert 1935-2019
    Yes, indeed. Did wonderful work for a lot of neglected music. Held the torch high with that early complete Korngold orchestral set. Not a big time star conductor - just a hard-working, dedicated professional - we need more like him.

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    Do you fear advocating for "unheralded" late-19th/early 20th century German/Austrian orchestral music?

    Sometimes I do. If you read much music criticism, the writers who direct attention mainly to the gold-plated stars of orchestral composition can be condescending, implying that anyone who advocates for late Romantics like Raff or Reznicek or Bittner just doesn't get it. Modernists and post-modernists don't really want to open up space for neglected composers of the past and may characterize us as naïve, hidebound, and so on.

    But there have been positives. Over the past couple of years recordings of orchestral works by L. Scharwenka, Nicode, Roentgen, Volbach, Zemlinsky, Pfitzner, Weigl, Braunfels, Gal, and others have received positive reviews. The same applies to concert performances of works by Schmidt and Marx. I'm going to add more on these developments soon. In the meantime, despite the importance of recordings and live performances the climate of opinion is important too, and here comment and information on TalkClassical and elsewhere is vital. I've found I don't have to hide or apologize for my tastes. Political or religious issues are vital and can't be ignored, but if we don't speak up for music we find good, then what are we here for?
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Dec-20-2019 at 21:47.

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