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OF THE MONTH
Ritchie Symphony 4
OF THE MONTH
MGB Records (German) (French)
Rolf LOOSER (1920-2001)
Rezitativ und Hymnus für Violine allein (1960) [11:59]
Kolja LESSING (b.
Metaphysische Muse in einer con der Abendsonne beleuchteten
Strasse ( 1979) [3:39]
Friedemann TREIBER (b.
Prelude for Violin solo (2002) [7:14]
Balz TRÜMPY (b.
Intertwined Paths (2001/02) [23:27]
Eric GAUDIBERT (b.
Capriccio for solo violin (1978) [6:25]
Heidi BAADER-NOBS (b.
Duo pour Hansheinz (1996) [6:42]
Elliott CARTER (b.
Four Lauds für Geige solo (1984/2000) [13:16]
rec. Radiostudio Zürich, 23-25 March, 16 June 2006
SUISSES MGB CTS-M 101 [66:59]
This is one disc of a trio
of “Grammont Portrait” recordings released by Musiques Suisses.
Each has a specific focus, one highlighting the ensemble
named æquatour (their name is apparently uncapitalized),
another showcasing the compositions of Mela Meierhans, and
this one, a programme performed by violinist Hansheinz Schneeberger.
All three discs are attractively packaged and presented,
with insightful liner notes that not only discuss aspects
of the unfamiliar pieces, but also contain interviews with
the artists involved. Four of the works on this disc are
dedicated to Schneeberger who discusses the background to
his choice of works for this programme.
This disc was for me — and
may well be for numerous others — an introduction to Schneeberger.
He was born in 1926 in Bern - some online resources indicate
1928 as his birth year - studying music with Carl Flesch
and Boris Kamensky. He was a member of various quartets and
served as the concertmaster for the NDR Orchester, performing
the premiere of Bartók’s first Violin Concerto.
Now, on to the pieces. Of
the composers listed, most will recognize only Elliott Carter — what
we have here is a survey of some mostly very new and certainly
seldom-played pieces, opening with the Rezitativ und Hymnus of
Rolf Looser, the earliest piece on the disc. Schneeberger
mentions in his notes that the piece is reminiscent of the
Andante of Bach’s solo sonata in A minor, and brief phrases
certainly do raise the vaporous outline of that piece, along
with, more substantially, snatches of Shostakovich - parts
of the Op. 77 cadenza and Nocturne movement spring to mind
in the very movingly-performed Rezitativ section -
and Schnittke. The Hymnus movement follows without
a break — the narrative line is soon interwoven with other ‘voices’ that
gain in complexity and intensity. It’s a sombre work and
one well worth in-depth listening to ponder the intricacies
of its unfolding.
Metaphysische Muse is dedicated to Schneeberger,
who also performed its premiere in 1980. It sounds from the
outset as if it
was going to continue on the same turf trodden by Looser’s
work, but it is soon evident that this is a more cadenza-like
piece, more extrovert, though not affable by any means. The
piece is astonishing, having come from the pen of an at-the-time
seventeen-year-old Lessing. Here, as with the Looser piece,
we have a superimposition of voices and a rather sombre outlook.
The piece ends mysteriously with a pianissimo double-stopped
trill that evaporates off the strings.
The youngest composer in this
programme is Friedemann Treiber, with the Prelude,
written in 2002. He is currently the violinist for the Basel-based
Ensemble Phoenix. He has appearances on various labels, including
Col Legno and Meta, with a varied repertoire, from Piazzolla
to Gerald Eckert. The Prelude begins rather mournfully
building rapidly to some fleet-fingered passagework. Treiber
mentions in his brief comment on the work that the piece
is intended to fit between an improvisatorial prelude and
the strictures of a 12-tone row-based structure. Prelude certainly
has aspects of both, the rapid-fire sections give the impression
of improvisation while the paths those passages take give
the impression that the work is grounded on more than whim.
This piece and Rezitativ und Hymnus are certainly
standouts on this disc.
The oldest and certainly best-known
of the composers represented on this recording is Elliott
Carter, with his 4 Lauds, all composed separately
over the course of six years as gifts and salutes to fellow
composers and artists: Aaron Copland, Goffredo Petrassi,
Roger Mann and Roger Sessions. I’ve found Carter’s music
rather uncompromising and often rather inaccessible in the
past and these pieces do not depart from that. They are arresting
and are convincingly played by Schneeberger.
Overall, the playing here
is wonderfully controlled and assured, and the recording
aesthetic is intimate while still giving a sense of aural
space and ambience. The performances here have been crisply
and cleanly captured. Schneeberger mentions in his introduction
that the programme could be seen alternately by the contrasts
the pieces have with each other or the similarities they
have. In listening to this collection of challenging music — all
of the pieces here place demands on the listener — the pieces
all have a similarity in their starkness and even occasional
bleakness, but it is interesting that they approach such
territory from widely differing directions. For those up
for a challenge and who are interested in new and little-played
music exceedingly well-played, this disc comes recommended
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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