For modern music...Honegger!!!

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
For modern music...Honegger!!!

speaking about modern music, recently by accident arrived to my hands a Naxos CD with Honeggers music, specifically symphony No 3 "Liturgique", symphonic poems "Pacific 231" and "Rugby" and two other works, all with New Zealand Symphony Orch conducted by japanese conductor Takuo Yuasa. I never had hear Honeggers music before, and now I could say to you that this is a fascinanting music, vigorous,colourful, non atonal music like we could think, close to Respighi, Prokofiev or Stravinskys music (he was contemporary from those musicians). I think that this Cd is the ideal to iniciate anybody in this music, thought perhaps could be influenced in my opinion the version, Mr Terry Barfout in Musicweb considers this CD one of the best of the collection, he says:

"Takuo Yuasa’s performances
easily equal all previous versions (except
perhaps Scherchen’s Pacific 231),
and his is also the finest performance
of Rugby I’ve ever heard, better
even than the Bernstein’s. This music
has never sounded so good as on this
disk, obviously a high resolution master,
with a giant bass drum right up front.
If you already have satisfactory recordings
of this repertoire, you may want to
wait for the surround-sound DVD-Audio
which should be a top-bracket hi-fi
demonstration disk. If you can’t wait,
this is one of the finest sounding CDs
I’ve ever heard — at any price"

I need now listen all the other works of this composer and also from the others designated like "The Six", I recommend this CD to you fervorously. oscar.olavarria

 

Honegger has always been

Honegger has always been called the most "serious" member of Les Six, a designation that does unjustice to the depth of some of Poulenc's or Milhaud's works. But it's true that Honegger's music doesn't often display the frivolous jollity that's associated with the music of Les Six.

I once played his Fugue and Choral in concert - an early, but already very tense and emotional piece. Too bad he never wrote anything else for organ.

As for the symphonies, yes, they deserve broader recognition.
The first is a deliciously playful and aggressive Stravinskian piece, while the 2nd, for strings alone is an intensely mournful composition which resembles Bartok's music for strings, percussion and celesta. The appearance of the solo trumpet in the finale, as a beakon of hope amidst the turmoil, is a truly magical moment.
In the later symphonies Honegger's style becomes a bit too dry and academic for my taste., I've never been a big fan of the 4th and 5th symphonies.
The 3rd however is a masterpiece. One gets associations of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem here - and the emotional fervour of the slow movement is breathtaking.

I think for the symphonies, the complete edition by Michel Plasson and the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse is the reference recording. Even if Honegger wasn't French, his music was clearly French-oriented, and a French orchestra playing his works adds some authenticity to the performance.

Could be a nice topic for discussion, this. Do you prefer music to be played by musicians with the same nationality as the composer? Debussy by a French orchestra, Brahms by a German or Austrian one? Or are the differences in style between say german, french and american orchestras so watered down due to the rise of the traveling superstar conductors and the preference of the public of a clean, uniform cd-sound that it doesn't matter anymore?

RE: Honegger has always been

Oscar, no Honegger collection is complete without Karajan's pioneering recording of the second and third symphonies. Karajan is by far my favourite conductor but his rendering of these two works (the best by the composer IMO) is blistering.

I'll listen out for the Naxos disc.

RE: For modern music...Honegger!!!

For all the virtues of your CD on Naxos, Oscar, for Honneger's Third, you need the superb from any point of view (performance, orchestra, conductor and true to life recording) SACD of the RCO live with Jansons. It contains also the other major masterpiece of the composer, i.e. the thrilling Gloria, with the most impressive Netherlands Radio Choir and as soloist the majestic and equally sensitive soprano Luba Orgonasova.

Karajan is, by the way, exemplary in his old DG recording, but in terms of sound, presence and detail, it cannot reach Jansons' magnificent recording. There are also some other impressive, a bit historical, recordings with Ansermet (on Eloquence and Orfeo), Clytens etc. There is also a very interesting rare and overlooked recording of the version for two pianos as transcribed by...Shostakovich (on Guild).

His Chamber Music has some (minor) masterpieces, like his Cello Sonata and his Violin Sonatas, some of his Piano Music is very interesting and entertaining too, while his Concerto for Cello is a superb work and "must" for the repertory (even Rostropovich has honoured it).

Parla

 

RE: For modern music...Honegger!!!

Absolutely right, Naupilus. "Gloria" is Poulenc's masterpiece ("the Group of Six", you see). However, the coupling with Honneger's Third fits like a glove and demonstrates the connection among the members of the Group.

I have both recordings (Karajan and Jansons). So, I can tell the difference. If you haven't got Jansons, Naupilus, try it and, then, we may compare notes.

Honneger's Third is definitely a masterpiece of the 20th century and so is Poulenc's Gloria, a work, unfortunately, not often performed or recorded either.

Parla

RE: For modern music...Honegger!!!

So far, mixed feelings about Arthur Honegger's output: good works to my ears (symphony n.2 - related to the dark years of the WWII ; symphony n. 3, Mouvement symphonique n. 1 or Pacific 231......) together w/ others that, despite being formally correct, lack inspiration, so to speak.

Perhaps this is a normal situation (for me at least) dealing w/ Les Six: similar feelings dealing w/ Milhaud and Poulenc' s works. However their works are well worth exploring: there are some precious jewels there.

I guess that, even though Honegger's piano & chamber music may deserve a listening, his vocal and stage music seem to be his forte. I need to dive into his Cantata de Noel , his oratorios (Jeanne d'Arc au Bûcher - though previous listenings have left me unimpressed), and notably his opera Le Roi David (King David).

The conductors commonly associated w/ the Swiss composer are Charles Munch, Ansermet, Martinon, Serge Baudo (who recorded an interesting integral of the symphonies for Supraphon), Corboz, Dutoit and some outstanding and sporadic visits from the likes of Karajan, Jansons (previously on EMI), Ozawa, the one mentioned by Oscar.........

RE: For modern music...Honegger!!!

thats not exact dear Parla, because Ive read that: "Although Honegger was a member of Les Six, his work does not typically
share the playfulness and simplicity of the other members of that group.
Far from reacting against the romanticism of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss as the other members of Les Six did, Honegger's mature works show evidence of a distinct influence by it" ("Teach me about music" site)

Below is the Honeggers "Concertino for piano and orchestra" (1924) with my admired Ilana Vered, with hom I knowed 30 years ago the Mozarts piano concertos Ns 20 and 23 with conductor Uri Segal and London Philharmonic Orch. Besides, Ilana vered althought his age is yet a lovely woman!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uRnAG3wJpE

 

oscar.olavarria

 

 

RE: For modern music...Honegger!!!

Dear Oscar, it would be very unfair if anyone (including the site on "teaching me about music") would label the works of Les Six as "playful" and "simple". Of course, as outward features "simplicity and some sort of playfulness" exist, but there are quite a few beautiful, meaningful and even profound works from all of them, in solo instrument, chamber, vocal and symphonic music. Poulenc's Gloria is definitely a great and profound work as well as Honneger's Symphony No.3, his Cello Concerto, some of his Chamber works and so on.

So, there is plenty to explore from the Six.

Parla

RE: For modern music...Honegger!!!

parla wrote:

Absolutely right, Naupilus. "Gloria" is Poulenc's masterpiece ("the Group of Six", you see). However, the coupling with Honneger's Third fits like a glove and demonstrates the connection among the members of the Group.

I have both recordings (Karajan and Jansons). So, I can tell the difference. If you haven't got Jansons, Naupilus, try it and, then, we may compare notes.

Parla

Parla

I thought it would be clear form my comment that I had both recordings... why else would I offer a comparitive comment? I shall decline comparing notes too - I am quite happy with my choice.

Naupilus

RE: Honegger has always been

BazzaRiley wrote:
Oscar, no Honegger collection is complete without Karajan's pioneering recording of the second and third symphonies. Karajan is by far my favourite conductor but his rendering of these two works (the best by the composer IMO) is blistering.

Jeez, those early mornings watching cricket have played havoc. I meant to write "Karajan is far from being my favourite conductor"!!

RE: Honegger has always been

BazzaRiley wrote:

Jeez, those early mornings watching cricket have played havoc. I meant to write "Karajan is far from being my favourite conductor"!!

I thought that's what you meant! And I had been about to post almost exactly the same.  Not a Karajan fan but he really does deliver superb performances of the Honegger symphonies.

In the end, the cricket was worth waking up for anyway!

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

Pages

Log in or register to post comments
© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2014