Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Norman Dello Joio, Homage to Haydn - Peter Schickele, Pentangle: Five Songs for French Horn and Orchestra - Vincent Persichetti, Symphony No. 8 - "First Edition/American Archives Series" - The Louisville Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin/Jorge Mester - Kenneth Albrecht, French Horn - Albany 1989

In the 1980s and early 1990s Albany records re-released some of the legendary Louisville Orchestra "First Edition" recordings. I believe only 10 or 11 releases were offered (needless to say the Louisville archives are large, and a musical treasure-chest in every possible sense (the "First Edition Records" label has been releasing many of the original LPs as most of you likely know, and how wonderful it is that this series exists! Joy.) This is one of my favorites from the series-and it can be entirely attributed to Peter Schickele's wondrous and exciting "Pentangle, Five Songs for French Horn and Orchestra". The Dello Joio and Persichetti works are good-but while Schickele's "Pentangle" is bursting with personality and such varied moods and atmosphere-the other two works imo are just not as memorable, although both are finely crafted (it's Dello Joio and Persichetti after all..). I will listen to the whole disc on occasion but usually straight to the Schickele do I go. It's an unique adventure!

This art is from the re-re-release in 1998 it seems, similar to the 1989 disc I have, although the original front cover doesn't show the composers as seen here, which is a nice touch.

I have been extremely fond of Peter Schickele for as long as I can remember (no one imo has contributed comedy and wit to the classical music "establishment"  quite like him, or rather his alter-ego "PDQ Bach", whom he "discovered" years ago, a lost Bach son. His recordings as "PDQ" are extremely successful (he won four grammys for his releases on Telarc, and there are many recordings on Vanguard also) and tons of fun, and his concerts are (apparently) not to be missed; sadly, thus far I have missed every single one, although my parents went to at least 10 concerts over the years-what they have told me makes me jealous!) As PDQ, he wrote music such as "Iphigenia in Brooklyn", "Sneaky Pete and the Wolf", The "Short-Tempered Clavier", Oratorio: "The Seasonings", "Unbegun" Symphony, "Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle and Balloons"...and the list goes on. His radio show "Schickele mix" on P.R.I. was an innovative mix of both modern and early composers, but musicians such as the Beach Boys or Cole Porter would also pop up; Schickele often made the music into "suites" that demonstrate how these pieces unexpectedly share a similar musical technique or idea. Classical or otherwise. It was a brilliant program that ran for 15 years. Also a performer, educator and musicologist, Schickele is a true renaissance man and I could happily write pages and pages about him; he's just that damn interesting. As a composer of "serious" concert music (his orchestral works and his larger body of chamber music is just wonderful) he is under appreciated and not explored enough. 

Peter Schickele was born in Ames, Iowa on July 17th, 1935. At the Julliard School he studied with Vincent Persichetti and William Bergsma before embarking on a variegated career in rock, folk and 'serious' music. He has been associated with several recordings by singer Joan Baez, composing music the music for the sensitive "Baptism", and arranging one of the finest albums of Christmas music, "Noël". But as mentioned above Schickele is best known for his "discovery" of PDQ Bach, a composer, and arranger responsible for a hilarious parody of classical music. 

"Pentangle, for French Horn and Orchestra" was commissioned by French Horn player Tom Bacon who was soloist at the premiere by the West Shore Symphony of Muskegon, Michigan, on February 15th, 1976. The piece contains five sections entitled "Cottonwood Grove", "Tom on the Town", "Noonsong", "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Amazing and Amusing Professor Presto", and "The Riddling Knight". The composer has provided the following commentary for Pentangle (which, incidentally, means five-pointed star, a symbol associated for centuries with philosophers and magicians):

"The subtitle of Pentangle, Five Songs for French Horn and Orchestra, refers to the fact that it is closer in structure to a song cycle than to the symphonic developmental concerto of the last 200 years. During the great folk-rock renaissance of the late 1960s, the record album came to be regarded not merely as a receptacle for singles, but as a specific span of time within which songs, sometimes even inter-related, were arranged with an ear not only toward their import as separate numbers, but their overall effect as a suite. I think of Pentangle as an album side and, as a matter of fact, a couple of the themes were originally written for songs. The music was conceived for the modern symphony orchestra, but it is as indebted to jazz, folk and rock as it is to traditional classical music. Although the title was chosen for other reasons, the fact that it implies a tribute to Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Incredible String Band, and other British folk-orientated groups is perfectly fine. 

Cottonwood Grove is shimmering, serene. Tom on the Town grew out of a song begun for - but not used in - a movie for which I did the score. The film took place in Dublin. In Noonsong, the soloist is required produce chords of three or more notes, a technique which seems to go at least as far back as the beginning of the 19th century. The fourth movement - Ladies and Gentlemen, the Amazing and Amusing Professor Presto - pays respect to that relative of the musician, the magician, and the Riddling Knight is adapted lyrically from the traditional English ballad:

There were three sisters fair and bright                         And tell me, gentle maiden,
As ever the sun did see,                                                 What is louder than a horn,
And they three loved one valiant knight                        Tell me, pretty maiden,
As the dew lies on the tree.                                            What is louder than a horn?"

The youngest was determined                                        "Hunger is sharper than a thorn,
For to wed this valiant knight.                                        And thunder is louder than a horn,
"And if you can answer questions three,                        And thunder, O valiant knight,
Fair maid, I will be thine,                                               Is louder than a horn"
If you can answer questions three,
Fair maid, I will be thine"                                              "What is broader than the sky
                                                                                        And deeper than the sea?"
"Tell me, gentle maiden,                                                 "Love is broader than the sky
What is sharper than a thorn?                                          And deeper than the sea"
                                                                                        "Now you have answered well, fair maid,
                                                                                        And I will marry thee".

-The ballad of "The Riddling Knight" is to be performed by the Horn player or another member of
the orchestra..and it shows here, as the vocals are amateur at best-although I suspect that's the intention. There's a particular poignancy in this way I think.

This is special music folks...every time I listen to Pentangle it evokes different things for me (everything from the great Duke Ellington to the Knights of the Round Table-Arthurian and Monty Python both!).

Norman Dello Joio's "Homage to Haydn" was premiered by no less than Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in Little Rock on June 3rd, 1969. Norman Dello Joio was there and apparently  the work was very well received, the composer taking many bows to a standing ovation generously punctuated with 'bravos'. The concert was part of a celebration of Arkansas's 150th anniversary as a US territory, and other composers on the program included Wagner, Debussy, and Brahms.

"Homage to Haydn", written in 1968-69, does not quote directly from the Papa himself, but does evoke the mood and spirit of the great classicist. Dello Joio says of this work: "The title indicates my intense admiration for Haydn, his seeming simplicity and also good humor. The more I get to know his work intimately, the more I am struck by his endless imagination. The strong affinity I feel for him as a composer is due to the directness of his communication which tends to be characteristic of my own efforts". This work is in three movements:

I. Introduction-Allegro scherzando. After a sombre beginning adagio sostenuto, Haydnesque themes are interpolated by the strings. The movement is charming, spiced with wit and inspired by Haydn's liveliness. 

II. Adagio, molto sostenuto. The most chromatic of the three sections, this movement derives its power  from compelling harmonies (and a rather fascinating use of triplets in various rhythmical surroundings).

III. Allegro giocoso. Lively syncopated rhythms establish the warmth and freedom of the final movement. Modern rhythms abound, although Haydn is not forgotten. 

This is a well done work imo, but not that moving or powerful like his (Pulitzer Prize winning) "Meditations on Ecclesiastes".

-I will add info on the Persichetti soon, I am having issues w. shoulder/neck pain

Enjoy everyone!



(last track and photos):




Marcelo Lasta said...

I love Schickele,genial músico dementius,jajajajajajaja,gracias,Master Tzadik,y de bonus track= Sinfonia 8 de Persicheti,otro monstruo American composer(el sabado pasado difundí por mi ignoto programa Coral de las francas,Sinfonia 3 de V.Giannini,another lost laconic last romantic of USA)Abrazo cetáceo,tu amigo(¿sabes, parece que no conocieramos de siempre,old friend?),Tapirman!!

Marcelo Lasta said...

Parece que Nos conocieramos de siempre,quise poner,Master Tzadik,otro gran abrazo!!he difundido opus del locus ceruleus Peter por la radio también,un gran humorista musical,como festival Hofnung y M.Arnold,another Monster musical of cosmos!! Tapirman...

Scraps said...

Oh, thank you!




cjvinthechair said...

Ah, well spotted, Mr. T - the gap in my Persichetti symphonies 3-9 was....no. 8 !
Fear, if you've anything to do with it, I'm soon to suffer 'death by string quartet' or some similar dire means of departure, so meantime I'll just enjoy a proper orchestra ! Thanks for these.

Toon van Dijk said...

Many thanks and regards from The Netherlands.
Veel dank en groeten uit Nederland.

Tzadik said...

Buen fin de semana para ti, querido doctor T. Lo siento que no he respondido a usted cuanto antes; He estado teniendo hombro y dolor de cuello durante más de una semana y los 3 últimos días se ha vuelto extremadamente intensa. Yo no voy a trabajar o salir de la casa. (o dormir, la parte más frustrante ..) creo que es un desgarro del manguito rotador, pero no lo sabré hasta el martes cuando veo a un médico. Es difícil de escribir, pero estoy aburrido hasta la muerte y tratando de ignorar la quema!


Tzadik said...

Estimado Marcelo, sí de hecho- lo hace sentir como si pudiéramos ser viejos amigos :-) Cómo lo divertido que sería ser capaz de sentarse junto a un montón de grandes grabaciones, gran conversación (y quizás algunas cervezas belgas ??; ) O algunas entradas para un gran concierto! La mayoría de mis amigos más cercanos, la mayoría de los cuales viven ahora en otras partes del país, es un apasionado de la música, y tienen esotérica sabor sin embargo, sólo uno es un verdadero amante de la música clásica :( Y, con mi querido Rosner transmite ahora tengo en realidad nadie para compartir mi amor con. es solitaria de muchas maneras. Quién sabe, quizás algún día los hermanos podrán reunirse. Espero que haya menos pobreza en mi futuro cercano ..

Sí, Giannini es un gran estadounidense, tengo la mayor parte de su música. Y M. Arnold Ni que decir :)

-Hable Pronto, voy a tratar de publicar música ahora, pero con este dolor que no voy a escribir nada hasta que yo sea la recuperación

Tu amigo en sonido universal,


Tzadik said...

You are most welcome Scrappy


Tzadik said...

Hola Xavier Joan, gracias por los buenos comentarios de mi amigo. Como siempre me gustaría tener más tiempo para publicar, pero por ahora voy a hacer lo que pueda. Zippy es todavía imo el mejor servicio, y teniendo en cuenta que es libre es oro para un cartel (el límite 200mb no debería importar, varios archivos se pueden agregar más grandes álbumes / archivos / archivos sin pérdidas, etc.). Muchos servicios son tan lento que no quiero que esperar 45 minutos para un archivo para descargar, y no tienen el tiempo de todos modos. No sé por qué otros pueden usar tales métodos, pero es hasta el cartel que pueden hacer lo que quieran.



Tzadik said...

Cjv, you seem to have some great collection I must say. Happy I can help with this symphonic "fill".

I know you must be aware of Schubert's great "Der Tod und das cjvinthechair". Understandably you
are concerned. Just stick with Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, and also take 3 doses of Stokowski transcriptions
daily. And of course....email me in the morning ;)


Tzadik said...

Quite welcome sir Toon!