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Harald GENZMER (1909-2007)
Zum 100 Geburztag
Music for orchestra, choir, chamber ensembles, duo and piano rec. ADD/DDD, 1966-2006
Full details at end of review
THOROFON CTH2553 [10 CDs: circa 11:23:00]







(1909-2007) Orchesterwerke III
Fest-Overtüre (für Orchester)
Sinfonie Nr. 3 (für großes Orchester)
Hölderlinfragmente Nr. 1-5 (Musik für großes Orchester nach Worten Friedrich Hölderlins): (1: Höret das Horn des Wächters bei Nacht, nach Mitternacht ist's um die fünfte Stunde (Adagio - Allegro); 2: O Insel des Lichts (Moderato e dolce); 3: Wie bei Nacht, wenn einer mit Trommeten reiset oder mit Fackeln (Vivace); 4: Echo tönet umher (Tranquillo e rubato); 5: Darum geht schrecklich über der Erde Diana die Sängerin (Allegro molto))
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie/Werner Andreas Albert
rec. Saarland Radio, 2006-8.
THOROFON CTH2556 [74:38]

Experience Classicsonline

musical credo is declared prominently on the box: "It should appeal to performers by being practicable and to listeners by being intelligible."

His declared influences are Rudi Stephan, Richard Strauss and Max Reger. His studies in Berlin with Paul Hindemith from 1928 to 1934 certainly left a mark. John McCabe was one of his pupils. 

Genzmer's music is that of a real composer who did in fact use dissonance when it suited his expressive need. In general however he was an adherent of the melodic tradition often written in a world embittered or dismissive of that tradition. 

He often finds time for folk or traditional melodies and not always from the Germanic traditions. 

This box comprises a selection of the Genzmer discs issued in a rather low key way by Thorofon over the last decade. They have not stopped and all the discs here can still be had individually if you prefer. The set was issued to mark the composer's centenary year. He died three years short of that birthday. 

The 1999 Trumpet and Piano Concerto is full of wit and romance with the music representing trade between Copland's Quiet City and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Genzmer is often moving and always stimulating as we can hear in the 1953, 1955, 1967 and 1976 string orchestra works: Divertimento di Danza, Sinfonietta, Sonatina prima and Miniatures. These works occasionally smack of Dag Wirén. 

The choral music disc encompasses works from 1956 to 2003. Genzmer here impresses sweetly with writing which sits variously between Geoffrey Bush, Peter Warlock and Benjamin Britten. It is very melodic with no touch of the avant-garde about it. Genzmer was not a follower of current fashions. 

The music for cello and harp includes an emphatic 1963 Sonata for the two instruments and an impassioned solo Sonata from 1977 with a delicious pizzicato movement. It cannot help but be somewhat Baxian. The 1965 Harp Concerto is at once sombre, determined and sentimental. As if to compensate the Klagelied for six harps and solo cello is most movingly and singingly done over the plangent arpeggiation of six harps. 

The disc of music for cello, double bass and piano opens with the gawky and darkling Double-Bass sonata of 1979. The Second Cello Sonata follows, seemingly heavy with the threat of conflict. The Six Bagatelles for cello and double bass are each delightful and ticklingly entertaining little character pieces. Each is polished and timed so as to match the melodic material. Genzmer's 1953 Cello Sonata is just as passionate and emotionally charged as the later works (see review by David Blomenberg). 

The 1970 Organ Concerto has the great Edgar Krapp presiding in a work that charts its way from Gothic haunting, to melodramatic, to peaceful. Genzmer’s peace in this case is not restful and his energetic writing is not tense but joyous. Peter Sadlo is the percussionist in the 1978 Percussion Concerto. It too is rather dark but also fey and mercurial. The 1948 Piano Concerto is taken by Oliver Triendl who is a regular on Thorofon. There are further concertos on CD6. Andrea Lieberknecht spins and wings the 1954 Flute Concerto along in its Nielsen-like trajectory. A surprisingly ruthless final Allegro closes the proceedings not without a flutter and a chuckle at last. Triendl returns for the four movement Second Piano Concerto (1963). A tonal work, as are they all, it can be as light-hearted as Malcolm Arnold whose German counterpart Genzmer can occasionally seem. Four years later he was to turn to the viola for a concerto here played by Lars Anders Tomter. This is a subdued work interspersed with gawky asides and flourishes. 

Back to Trios and Quartets for CD 7. Triendl is again in evidence joined by Ingolf Turban and others. The melodically rounded Trio of 1944/1967 is powerful and compact. The 1964 Trio is more spiky and acidic but again firmly tonal. Its tranced Tranquillo is a highlight here. The 1974 quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano takes us closer to 1970s disillusion. It's very moving especially in the Largo. 

The Chamber Orchestra works range from a delightful almost Fauré-like First Concertino for piano and strings with flute. It includes a bustlingly engaging Scherzo finale. The 1959 Violin Concerto has some Stravinskian pepper and a flashing and flickering solo line. It is a work of quietly spoken passions rather than grandstanding oration – perhaps like the Arnold double violin concerto. Then follows a cheery and by no means bland Oboe Concerto which would match up rather well against the equally lyrical and light-footed Arnold Oboe Concerto. From 1958 comes the Second Symphony. It is brooding, urgent and intense - caught in the slipstream between Hindemith's Harmonie der Welt and works such as the string sinfoniettas of Herrmann and Waxman. Speaking of brooding that word aptly characterises the Prologue II for orchestra which opens CD 9 but this ultimately is shaken off in favour of triumphant exuberance and even grandeur. The Third Piano Concerto (1974) is in four movements. Oliver Triendl who must know the piano music of Genzmer better than any other pianist alive again presides over this urgent and sometimes faintly jazzy music. There is a slightly oriental capricious twist to the third movement which paves the way for the heroically romping finale with its dash of Bartók along the way. The Fourth Symphony of 1990 is very accessible yet not bland. After an exciting first movement comes a elegiac-phantasmal episode. A hunting fantasy-scherzo whirrs and rushes forward redolent of the Diana Huntress movement in his earlier Hölderlin Fragments. After this we return to elegies again with a halting yet affectingly singing Lento. The finale is rushing and motoric with good dynamic contrast. Its final pages are those of an heroic valedictorian. 

The final disc in the box has Triendl guiding us through the occasionally dissonant Fifth Piano Sonata (1985). He also tackles the Bartókian angularity and sometimes jazziness of the Preludes to the nova-Bachian First Sonatina of 1940. He rounds out the sequence with Genzmer’s four movement suite of 1947-48 with all its inventive grace, occasional neo-classicism, romantic hyperbole and sentiment. 

The recordings date from between 1998 and 2006 allowing for one 1966 session for the Sonata for cello and harp. 

I hate the fact that each of the envelopes in the card wallet case was sealed with ‘self sticky’ so you have to peel the flap back each time you want to get at the disc. Who thought this was a good idea? 

The orchestral music is well put across by a series of increasingly recognised German regional orchestras.

This is a valuable set against which to reset your musical compass and prejudices. That the music is enjoyable should, I think, have been mentioned first. 

The most recent Genzmer Thorofon individual disc is CTH2556. It’s not part of the box. 

You don't expect a Festival Overture from 1999 yet Genzmer's is there and was written without a Festival. It was purely a matter of the composer' s creative volition. A work with a ripple of percussion throughout - tom-tom and marimba – it’s effect is rather like a gaunt Malcolm Arnold. It ends in a refulgent brassy and victorious blaze with whooping horns underscoring the triumph. 

The Third Symphony (1983-86) was a commission from the Munich Phil who premiered it on 20 June 1986 under Celibidache. Like the overture it has prominent parts for much additional percussion. The composer allows the conductor to substitute other instruments - ever the practical pragmatist. The battery prescribed includes vibraphone, marimba, xylophone, chimes, ten concert tom-toms and more. It strikes me as a work of protest, anger and disillusion - much along the lines, though sounding different, of Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's Symphony recently recorded by Oehms. It ends with a remarkable elegiac feeling and an Ariel-like fanciful glisten into silence. The Hölderlin Frgaments (I-V) (1977) are in effect another five-movement symphony. Each fragment carries a Hölderlin text as superscription:- 

I Hear the horn of the watchman by night - ruthless, determination and brassy confidence. 
II O Island of Light – mysterious jangling noises - Ravelian - a little eldritch.
III As at night, when one travels with trumpets or torches. Raucous uproar.
IV Echo sounds around - mystery - Prospero's island.
V Therefore Diana the singer goes horribly over the earth. That same ruthlessness and triumph mentioned earlier returns bedecked in percussion. The horns and strings are rampantly representative of Diana the huntress. 

The 10 CD box is an economical way to add a large swathe of Genzmer's works to your collection. The discs have been issued singly over the last decade and you may not have come across them. Let’s hope they have not given up on Genzmer. There’s plenty more to hear including the concertos for two clarinets and strings (1983), four horns and orchestra (1984), cello, contrabass and strings (1984), two pianos and orchestra and two guitars and orchestra; not to mention the Parergon zur "Sinfonia per giovani", for saxophone orchestra. In the choral realm I would hope to hear Genzmer’s 1962, Jiménez-Kantate, for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra, the 1969-1970 Mistral-Kantate, the 1973 Deutsche Messe, for mixed chorus and organ, the 1975-1976 Oswald von Wolkenstein, cantata for soprano, baritone, mixed chorus and orchestra, 1978 Kantate (The mystic trumpeter after Whitman), for soprano (tenor), trumpet and strings and the 1981 Kantate nach engl. Barockgedichten, for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra. As far as I am aware the Fifth Symphony “for large orchestra” (1998) also awaits a recording. 

A German melodist of the 20th century. Genzmer writes rewardingly so is well worth discovering.
Rob Barnett

Detailed contents list: Zum 100 Geburztag THOROFON 9186815:
CD 1 (CTH2457) [69:11]
Konzert für Trompete, Klavier und Streicher (1999)
Miniaturen für Streicher (1976)
Sinfonietta für Streichorchester (1955)
Divertimento di danza für Streichorchester (1953)
Sonatina prima für Streicher (1967)
Margarita Höhenrieder (Klavier)
Guy Touvron (Trompete)
Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn/Jörg Faerber
CD 2 (CTH2526) [61:23]
Irische Harfe (5 Gesänge für gemischten Chor a cappella) (1965)
Chöre nach Gedichten spanischer, amerikanischer und hispano-amerikanischer Lyrik für gemischten Chor a cappella (2002-3)
Einladung Alte Volkslieder in neuen Sätzen für gleiche Stimmen (1956)
Der grimmig Tod Vier indische Lieder für Männerchor a cappella (1963)
An den Flamingo Vier Petrarca-Chöre für gemischten Chor a cappella (1973/74) Timo Zimmer (Bariton); Hermine Mölzer (Sopran); Clarissa Jäkel (Alt); Felicitas Lottner (Mezzosopran); Marcia Zieglmeier (Sopran)
Via-Nova-Chor München/Kurt Suttner
CD 3 (CTH2527) [53:23]
Sonate für Violoncello und Harfe (1963)
Konzert für Harfe und Streichorchester (1965)
Sonate für Violoncello solo (1976 / 77)
Klagelied für Violoncello und sechs Harfen
Klaus Storck (Violoncello)
Christoph Bielefeld (Harfe)
Antonia Schreiber (Harfe)
Helga Storck (Harfe)
Jie Zhou (Harfe)
Kirsten Ecke (Harfe)
Anna Koim (Harfe)
CD 4 (CTH2529) [72:50]
Sonate für Kontrabass und Klavier (1979)
Sonate für Violoncello und Klavier Nr. 2 (1976 / 77)
Fantasie für Kontrabass und Klavier (1980)
Bagatellen Nr. 1-6 (für Violoncello und Kontrabass) (1985)
Sonate für Violoncello und Klavier Nr. 1 (1953)
Martin Ostertag (Violoncello)
Nabil Shehata (Kontrabass)
Oliver Triendl (Klavier)
CD 5 (CTH2494) [73:39]
Konzert für Orgel und Orchester (1970)
Konzert für Schlagzeug und Orchester (1978)
Konzert für Klavier und Orchester (1948)
Edgar Krapp (Orgel)
Peter Sadlo (Schlagzeug)
Oliver Triendl (Klavier)
Bamberger Symphoniker/Werner Andreas Albert
CD 6 (CTH2528) [66:28]
Konzert für Flöte und Orchester (1954)
Concertino für Klavier und Streichorchester Nr. 2 (1963)
Konzert für Viola und Orchester (1967)
Andrea Lieberknecht (Flöte)
Oliver Triendl (Klavier)
Lars Anders Tomter (Viola)
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrücken/Werner Andreas Albert
CD 7 (CTH2495) [55:50]
Trio für Violine, Violoncello und Klavier F-Dur (1944 / 67)
Trio für Violine, Violoncello und Kavier (1964)
Quartett für Klarinette, Violine, Violoncello und Klavier (1974)
Ingolf Turban (Violine)
Wen-Sinn Yang (Violoncello)
Eduard Brunner (Klarinette)
Oliver Triendl (Klavier)
CD 8 (CTH2537) [70:02]
Concertino für Klavier und Streichorchester (mit obligater Flöte) Nr. 1 (1946)
Konzert für Violine und Orchester (1959)
Konzert für Oboe und Streichorchester (Kammerkonzert) (1957)
Sinfonie für Streichorchester Nr. 2 (1958)
Andrea Lieberknecht (Flöte)
Oliver Triendl (Klavier)
Rainer Kussmaul (Violine)
François Leleux (Oboe/Englisch Horn
Münchener Kammerorchester/Alexander Liebreich
CD 9 (CTH2401) [66:18]
Prolog Nr. 2 für Orchester (1991)
Konzert für Klavier und Orchester Nr. 3 (1974)
Sinfonie Nr. 4 (1990)
Oliver Triendl (piano)
Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz Orchester/Theodor Guschlbauer
CD 10 (CTH2329) [59:08]
Sonate für Klavier (1985)
10 Préludes (1962 / 63)
Sonatine Nr. 1 (1940)
Suite C-Dur (1947 / 48)
Oliver Triendl (piano)

Other CDs of music by GENZMER:

Trautonium Concertos. Wergo (1986/94), WER 6266-2

Concerto for Trautonium and Orchestra (1938/39)
Concerto for Mixture-Trautonium and Large Orchestra (1952)
Chamber Music. Thorofon (2000), CTH 2419
Trio for Clarinet, Violoncello and Piano (1988)
Second Sonatina for Violoncello and Piano (1967)
Second Sonatina for Violoncello and Piano (1982)
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1997)
Works for Flute, Oboe, Bassoon and Piano. Thorofon (2005), CTH 2503
Trio for Flute, Bassoon and Piano (1973)
Sonata for Flute Solo (1973)
Introduction and Allegro for Bassoon and Piano (1966)
Seven Studies (Capriccios) for Oboe Solo (1974)
First Sonata for Flute and Piano (1939)
Sonata for Bassoon Solo (1974)
Trio for Flute, Oboe and Piano (1993)
Music for Flute, Clarinet and Piano. Thorofon (2008), CTH 2544
Third Sonata for Flute and Piano (2003)
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano (1982)
Third Sonata for Flute Solo (2002)
Fantasy for Clarinet Solo (1974)
Sonatina for Clarinet and Piano (1967)
Second Sonata for Flute and Piano (1945)
Music for Flutes. Thorofon (2008), CTH 2545
Quartet for Four Flutes (1988)
Sonata in F-sharp Minor for Two Flutes (1944)
Dialogues for Two Flutes (2003/Selection)
International Dialogues for Two Flutes (2005/Selection)
Trio for Two Flutes and Violoncello (1982)
Second Sonata for Two Flutes (1981)
Trio for Three Flutes (1990)
In Memoriam. Chamber Music of Harald Genzmer. Solo Musica (2008), SM 114
Second Sonata for Violoncello and Piano (1976/77)
Suite in C for Piano (1948)
Concerto for Piano and Percussion (1975)



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