Off now to listen to a newly acquired CD of a few of Holmboe's symphonies.
Hi Tagalie! Long time no talk to!
The CD that I have just purchased (used) is a BIS one which has symphonies Nos. 3, 1, and 10 with Hughes. I listened to No. 3 today (which I enjoyed). Do you know his music and if so, do you enjoy it? It's new to me.
Listened to Sofia Gubaidulina's third string quartet on Radio 3 lunchtime concert today. Can't really say if I liked it or not but it was riveting, partly perhaps because the sound was so immediately realistic and absolutely stunning (pity the low bit rate I-player won't do it justice for a re-hearing).
Gubaidulina has a strange immediacy and a very personal idiom, which makes her music sound quite original and "riveting". Try her "Seven Last Words"; it's a revelatory work.
Her Piano works are quite extraordinary in their unique character.
I do know his music, Petra, and much enjoy 90% of it. To my ear the symphonies have 3 distinct phases. 1-3 are developmental, lightish but easy on the ear. 4 is where he starts to change gear. It's choral and stands a bit outside the rest of the cycle. 5-8 are where he really hits stride. 8 and the Sinfonia in Memoriam (really #9 but he fought shy of numbering it so) are masterpieces. 9 signifies another switch of gears to a terser, slightly less communicative style. If he was Vaughan Williams people would apply the word 'bluff'.
Your disc falls either side of that critical middle period and unfortunately I don't think 1, 3 and 10 give you a full picture of what he did elsewhere. But see how you go. People on this board whose musical taste I respect don't 'get' Holmboe so I'm not about to predict how you'll take to him.
Pollini playing Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Webern, Boulez. The Stravinsky I enjoy but the Boulez is baffling. I'd really like to get into 20th century music but it's a struggle. Does anyone have any tips please? (I have basic books about the 12 note system).
p.s. It strikes me that rhythm has been abandoned by Boulez.
Kev, I read this today from a short essay by the composer Andrew Ford and it made me think about my own process for how I approach works by composers such as Boulez:
"In order to understand music, we must be able to think musically, and
this is a talent that most of us can acquire at some level. With
physics, you won’t get on with the advanced stuff if you have failed to
understand the basics, but with music you can jump in anywhere. If you
find the water too chilly, you can always get out and try again later –
or try somewhere else. Eventually you are likely to find something that
holds your attention and this, in turn, will lead you to another piece
of music and another. Most people get this far.
The next step is to find yourself listening to music you don’t like
or understand, reasoning that with a little persistence on your part the
piece in question will begin to reveal its secrets. Surprisingly often,
it does. If you’ve come this far, you are, I believe, a musical person,
even a musician of sorts, engaging with music at quite a profound
level, participating in musical thinking."
I wish I could claim credit for the quote but it came from a post by Alex Ross on his blog - the orginal article (quite short but to the point) is to be found here
Just in case anybody is interested, here is a 15 minute talk from Michael Tilson Thomas at the annual TED conference in March of this year.
Music and emotion through time
Thanks for your further thoughts on his symphonies; I appreciate them. Whose recordings do you like of his works and have you ever heard ones with this conductor?
If I'm recalling correctly, another person whose tastes I enjoy for the most part, also likes his music and particularly (I believe) his chamber works. Do you like them?
Today was a very busy day and so I didn't get in much listening (hopefully more tonight), but I did manage to put on Sibelius's Third with Jansens and part of a BBC Music Mag CD that I stumbled across of some of Bach's organ works--including his Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor which I've been eager to here! Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little less crazed and I can put on a bit more music and relax and enjoy it better! LOL
The Hughes set is first class. I believe he's still the only conductor to have recorded the complete cycle. Back in vinyl days Ferencsik did the Cello Concerto with Bengtsson and Sixten Ehrling recorded the 10th Symphony. Jerzy Semkow recorded the 8th Symphony, the first Holmboe I ever heard. The Hughes is light-years better, in every respect. I wouldn't worry about competing recordings. Most of his works have only been issued once.
There are some concerti, orchestral preludes, sinfonias, chamber concerti and various odds and bobs. Most of it is in a lighter vein than the symphonies. The string quartets are a whole other game. They don't register with me the way the symphonies do but many people, including one poster on here (can't recall who) consider them the core of Holmboe's output.
I'm currently working my way through the Wass recordings of Bax (Symphonic Variations, Winter Legend) I just bought. Very much better than the Chandos versions, Wass far more flexible and responsive. Judd's a bit stiff and coordination between soloist and orchestra varies. But it's the recording quality that has been the biggest surprise. This isn't the in-your-face, airless and spikey sound that disfigures the Lloyd-Jones symphony cycle or the Petrenko Shostakovich series. It offers just the right amount of detail, space around the orchestra, a clear but calm top end and an extended bass that reveals much that's missing from the Chandos. Probably the best Naxos recordings I've heard, demo-quality.
Tagalie, where was the Wass recorded? I don't have the notes as I bought Winter Legends as a lossless download and yes the sound is good, perhaps I should now go for his Symphonic Vars. I haven't heard the L-J symphonies though as I thought I wouldn't bother having two Chandos sets and best of all in my view the five which Lyrita recorded with the best sound of all. I don't like the sound of Vernon Handley's Manchester set which sounds as if artificial reverberation has been added and I thought it a pity they didn't do them in Ulster as Chandos had better results there with Handley in my view.
I haven't heard the RLPO on Naxos but EMI used to get good results in the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. I have to say though that I listened to a live Radio 3 from there last week and thought the sound close and constricted; very poor compared to EMI's recordings and with little sense of the acoustic of a venue I know well.
I think I mentioned it before but Mark Bebbington's recording of the completion of Bax's concertino (on Somm) is worth a listen; good sound too.
Petra & Tagalie, I believe I was the poster who mentioned the greatness of Holmboe's String Quartets. Despite I don't own all his Symphonies, I found his String Quartets very convincing, extraordinary and, to some point, moving and exiting. Holmboe was very prolific in this genre; he wrote 20 of those and they exist in a reference recording on Dacapo with Kontra Quartet. The final Box set of 7 CDs is offered at the price of almost 2 full price CDs!
Dacapo has so far done exceptional work with the Danish composers. It has not embarked on Holmboe's Symphonies, except for the String Symphonies op.73,a-d, known as "Kairos" (from the Greek work meaning "time" or "weather").
It has also issued some of the very important Chamber works of Holmboe such as the Violin Sonatas and the works for Violin and Piano, the oratorio "Requiem for Nietzsche", the wonderful "Preludes for Sinfonietta" (in two CDs), the very interesting "Chamber Concertos" (in 3 Volumes) and the rather difficult to follow "Works for A Capella Choir".
Tagalie, where was the Wass recorded? I don't have the notes as I bought Winter Legends as a lossless download and yes the sound is good, perhaps I should now go for his Symphonic Vars. I haven't heard the L-J symphonies though as I thought I wouldn't bother having two Chandos sets and best of all in my view the five which Lyrita recorded with the best sound of all.
Winter Legends and Symphonic Variations were recorded at The Lighthouse in Poole, the Bournemouth S.O.'s home. The Symphonic Variations recording is a little more recessed but still very fine. I totally agree re. the Lyrita recordings. This winter I went through my entire Bax collection on vinyl and cd and was amazed at how fine the Lyritas still sound, far better balanced than any of the orchestral cds, more detail, 'air', a deeper and more realistic base, more refined top end. I haven't heard the Handley cycle. It seems to get very mixed reviews.
I know the Liverpool Phil too (and its namesake across the road) and don't recall it being as close and 'boxy' sounding as the Petrenko recordings.
Thanks for the Bebbington tip.
I bought the Handley Bax symphony set after reading so many reviews praising it but have never been able to get past the 2nd symphony. I keep hearing the Lyrita recordings in my mind and find things lacking in Handley that Fredman brings out so well. The sound has always been a problem too. Why the BBC Philharmonic in their Manchester studio? I have heard many fine recordings in this venue but this isn't one of them. Too cold and annoying compared to the Lyritas. I wonder why the LPO wasn't used in Walthamstow or even Abbey Road, or as someone else suggested, the Ulster Orchestra. An opportunity missed, in my opinion.
Fully agree Bliss, and thanks Tagalie, I must have look at some of my other Naxos Bournemouth CDs and see if they always used the Lighthouse as there does seem some variability of sound from their Bournemouth recordings. The other day I played a CRD LP of Ronald Thomas & the Bournemouth Sinfonietta (Haydn symphonies) recorded in the Wessex Hall of Poole Arts Centre which sounds good. I have also been impressed with Thomas both playing & conducting Mendelssohn's ubiquitous concerto in the same venue; a quite refreshing version which deserves to be better known. He appears to have had an excellent rapport with the now defunct band.
It will be interesting to hear any new recordings from the BBC Philharmonic as to how the acoustic in their new base at Salford sounds and which Chandos will presumably now use.
I have a feeling the Poole Arts Centre and The Lighthouse are one and the same thing. I mean, how many great recording venues can there be in Poole? 'Lighthouse' sounds funky as long as you can get past the first impression that it must be a pub. It has to have a cafe that serves cappuccini and things wrapped in filo pastry, charging about what I paid for my first car. Poole Arts Centre's cafe would have tea and Bakewell tarts served by nice little old ladies who smell of talcum powder.
Thanks for the tip on the Handley cycle Bliss. I've been eyeballing it for a while, waiting for the price to drop. Sounds like I should spend my hard earned cash elsewhere.