GOEHR (b. 1932) Little Symphony op. 15 (1963) [28:04]
String Quartet No. 2 op. 23 (1967) [23:01]
Piano Trio op. 20 (1966) [19:49]
London Symphony Orchestra/Norman Del Mar;
Allegri Quartet; Orion Trio.
rec. 15 August 1964 (Little Symphony);
no details for other items. ADD
First issued on LP: Philips SAL 3497 (Little
Symphony); Argo ZRG 748.
original recordings made in association
with British Council.
LYRITA SRCD.264 [71:03]
Goehr like Birtwistle
studied with Richard Hall in Manchester.
He had been born in Berlin. His father
was the conductor Walter Goehr. In 1955
he also took lessons from Messiaen and
Yvonne Loriod in Paris. His music found
ready advocacy in the BBC during the
1960s and 1970s. However my impression
is that numbers of performances began
to fade after that.
His music has more
of a sense of roundedness and undulant
contouring than Birtwistle. Thus his
four movement Little Symphony proceeds
with a more articulated and curvaceous
progress than Birtwistle. The music
is dissonant but not to extremes and
there is certainly a grip on tonality
and a determined resolve. In the third
movement of the Symphony one can pick
up echoes of Nielsen’s Sixth Symphony.
The Little Symphony was written
in memory of the composer’s father.
It was premiered in York Minster in
July 1963 by the same forces as are
used for this recording.
Moving forward five
years we come to the more extreme String
Quartet No. 2 which was first performed,
again by the same forces as are used
here, in July 1967. It is in three movements
of dramatic music-making. Dissonance
is alive and kicking here but the vibrant
recording compensates with an intensely
engaging sound-image with depth and
breadth sufficient to unwaveringly engage
the mind and ears. The two movement
Piano Trio has keyboard writing that
evinces Goehr’s debt to Messiaen and
Loriod. It is also amongst the most
human and affecting of dissonant works.
The premiere was given by Yehudi Menuhin,
Hephzibah Menuhin and Maurice Gendron
at the Bath Festival in June 1966.
The satisfying notes
are by Lyrita regular Paul Conway.
Alexander Goehr’s music
is here presented with high production
values and commendable cultural commitment
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