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Alphons DIEPENBROCK (1862-1921)
CD 1
De Vogels Overture (1917) [10:14]
Marsyas (1909-10) - Concert Suite [33:55] (I Prelude. Marsyas' awakening in spring [7:19]; II Entr'acte. Wandering through the forest [12:31]; III Marsyas and the nymphs [6:04]; IV Prelude to Act III. A summer's night [4:49]; V Finale. Dance of the nymphs and Apollo's epilogue [2:55])
Hymne for violin and orchestra (1898, 1904-5, 1917) [12:37]
Elektra - symphonic suite (arr. Eduard Reeser) (1919-20) [19:52]
CD 2
Hymne an die Nacht for mezzo and orchestra (1899, 1909) [17:24] (1 'Muß immer der Morgen wiederkommen?' [7:57]; 2 'Ewig ist die Dauer des Schlaf' [3:25]; 3 'Sie wissen nicht, daß du es bist' [6:01])
Die Nacht for mezzo and orchestra (1910-11) [15:25] ('Rings um ruhet die Stadt' - [7:25]; 'Aber ein Saitenspiel tönt fern aus Gärten' [3:15]; 'Jetzt auch kommer ein Wehn' [4:45]
Hymne for tenor solo and orchestra [8:40] ('Wenige wisen das Geheimniß der Liebe' - [3:07]; 'Wer hat des irdischen Leibes hohen Sinn errathen?' [3:14]; 'Hätten die Nüchternen einmal gekostet' [2:20])
Im großen Schweigen for bass solo and orchestra (1905) [22:56] ('Hier ist das Meer' [6:53]; 'Das Meer liegt bleich und glänzend da' [5:06]; 'Sei es drum!' [3:37]; 'Ach, es wird noch stiller' [2:49]; 'Oh Meer! Oh Abend!' [4:31])
Linda Finnie (mezzo); Christoph Homberger (tenor); Robert Holl (bass-baritone); Emmy Verhey (violin)
Residentie Orchestra, The Hague/Hans Vonk
rec. Dr Anton Philipszaal, The Hague, The Netherlands, 24-27 September 1989 (orchestral works); 18-20 April and 3-4 July 1990 (symphonic songs)
CHANDOS CHAN 10029(2) [77:07 + 64:51]
Experience Classicsonline

It is good to welcome this set of the extravagantly brooding orchestral music of the Dutch composer Alphons Diepenbrock. Hans Vonk (1942-2004) presides. It was issued as such in 2002 but eluded us at the time. The same set but in one of those card-fold wallets has been licensed as Brilliant Classics 93412. I have not heard the Brilliant but assume that it will not be as well documented as the Chandos original. 

The overture De Vogels (The Birds) is a fairly blithe Straussian piece with an exuberant whoop yet by no means densely orchestrated. Much of the piece is quiet, delicate, fluttering and chirruping with birdsong - some of it luxuriously diaphanous and redolent of Ravel's Daphnis on the one hand and Bax's Spring Fire on the other.

The five movement Marsyas (Magic Fountain) concert suite is warmly orchestrated and blooms in the early afternoon sun. It dates from eight years before Der Vogels. Its second movement skips along in rather lively fashion with castanets and tambourine and a general sense of one of the more lively moments from Sibelius's incidental music. There's a sidelong Delian Prelude to a summer's night and a final romping Dance of the Nymphs and Apollo's Epilogue.

The Hymne for violin and orchestra has its origins in a piece for violin with piano. It has its salon sentimental stickiness but if you enjoy the Chausson Poème you will like this affectionate piece. It's beautifully played by Emmy Verhey.

The Diepenbrock authority Eduard Reeser prepared the symphonic suite of the music for Sophocles' Elektra. It 's in four movements. Gleaming gossamer textures are the order of the day. The mournful wistful second movement creates a chill in the air which is in part dispelled by the Fauré-like lambency of the third movement - very much in the line of the French composer's Pavane. Restless, ruthless and complete with castanets again the final segment depicts the Erinyes'; hunt and vengeance upon Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. There is a certain tortured darkness in this score; something which would have appealed to Bernard Herrmann.

The second disc sets forth four works for solo voice and orchestra. The Hymne an die Nacht No. 2 is a grand scena demanding a powerful voice set amidst a constantly shifting lyrical-expressionist orchestral backdrop. Linda Finnie's operatic chops are not in doubt and her reading while occasionally finding a beat in the voice conveys the sense of a great voice ready to come off the leash at any moment. This is lush and luscious romanticism with Delius and Wagner never far distant.

Finnie returns for the two episode Die Nacht with its coolly woven flute and woodwind partners. The solo violin and viola also course around the soloist's voice in the second segment. A slow burn.

The Hymne for tenor and orchestra is another slowly flowering pensive piece of melancholia. It is richly upholstered with the apparatus of the late-romantic orchestra yet with little dramatic conflagration.

Im großen Schweigen is laid out for bass solo and orchestra. It begins with some Brucknerian conspiratorial propulsion of the type to be heard in the Fourth and Eighth symphonies. This five movement sequence has much in the way of whispered confidences and soliloquies beside chilly lakes or roaming through cedar groves. One might think in terms of Bantock's Sappho Fragments. It includes some notably magical moments as in the fragile trumpet solo at 2:09 in the last chapter of the piece. Im großen Schweigen would go well with the Chausson Poème de l'Amour et de la Mer, with the more brooding Schulhoff songs and with Wagner's Wesendoncklieder.

The sung words and translation into English are printed in the no-holds-barred booklet.

The recordings are of exemplary clarity and the orchestra responds to every demand with security and engagement. I have known these discs since they were first issued individually in 1989-1990 as CHAN 8821 and CHAN 8878.

This is music that will appeal strongly to the late-romantic constituency that favours Zemlinsky, Bantock, Bax and Biarent.

Rob Barnett

 


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