Reviews

GMCD 7342 – Farewell – Music by Haydn, Martin, Vogel, Haller, Schaeuble

Camerata Zürich; Marc Kissóczy (conductor)

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Fanfare Magazine July / August 2011

HAYDN Symphony No. 45, “Farewell.” MARTIN Pavane couleur du temps. VOGEL Abschied. HALLER Abschied. SCHAEUBLE Symphony for Strings and Timpani, ‘9n Memoriam” Farewell showcases the lovely sound and interpretive range of Camerata Zürich, a string orchestra of approximately 20 members excellently conducted by Marc Kissóczy, its music director since 2002. The program, loosely tied together by the notion of leavetaking, consists of Haydn’s 45th Symphony plus four 20th-century Swiss works. The Martin and Schaeuble aren’t official farewells, but they share the elegaic mood. What matters is not that the CD has a theme-classical album titles being increasingly de rigeur yet rarely necessary-but that all of the unfamiliar pieces are well worth hearing. There’s more variety and substance here than you might expect, and the playing and engineering are superb.
For Frank Martin’s exquisite Pavane couleur de temps alone, I would give this unexpectedly winning disc a strong recommendation. More akin to Faure’s Pavane than Ravels, Martin’s is a melancholy piece in ABA form with a processional feel, composed for string quartet in 1920. Its memorable opening melody is supported by counterpoint that only a master composer could create and there’s no good reason why this seven-minute gem couldn’t become as popular as the two other well-known pavanes, especially in this sensitive, understated performance.
The Camerata’s strings are supplemented by winds for a lively, impeccably played performance of Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony, one of his Stürm and Drang works. The faster movements are played with energy and precision, and there’s great detail in the articulation of the second-movement Adagio. Without seeing the players leave the stage in the concluding Adagio’s “farewell,” the effect of the music is touching rather than comic. The performance combines some period-instrument techniques with modern playing, and the lack of a harpsichord continuo is a plus.
Moscow-born Wladimir Vogel (1896-1994) studied with Scriabin and with Busoni in Berlin. He settled in Switzerland in 1939 and remained there until his death, active as a teacher in Zürich, where Einojuhani Rautavaara and Rolf Liebermann were among his students. His 1973 Abschied begins with an ominous single note, a muffled jolt from the low strings that brings to mind the opening of the most devastating musical farewell of all, the “Abschied” from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Vogel’s Abschied is a bleak, expressionist work, thinly textured with carefully chosen sonorities, moody and affecting, eight minutes long.
Herman Hailer’s Abschied for soprano and string orchestra-no date of composition is given-is almost twice as long as Vogel’s, busier in its faster opening section and more rambling in its slower second part, which is a vocal setting. Hailer lived from 1914 to 2002. The booklet notes reveal little about him other than a few facts about his training and teaching. The otherwise helpful annotator, Robert Matthew-Walker, provides little or no information about Hailer’s Abschied and Guild does listeners and Hailer’s rather complex music a disservice by providing no text nor even mentioning what poem is set.
Much more information is offered concerning Hans Schaeuble (1906-88), a native Swiss who was inspired to become a composer after hearing Ernest Ansermet conduct Stravinsky. As a young man, he lived in Germany where his music was performed by the Berlin Philharmonic under Carl Schuricht, and returned to Switzerland in 1942 where the perception that he had been too pro-German limited performance opportunities for his music. Schaeuble’s 1977 two-movement Symphony for Strings and Timpani is a reworking of the third and fourth movements of his Second Symphony from 1943-44. The first movement, a deeply expressive Larghetto in a very late German Romantic vein (think late Mahler or Strauss) is, for me, this disc’s great discovery besides the Martin. To repeat, the whole disc is highly recommended.
Paul Orgel

Music Web International December 2010

I am sure that because of Mahler’s naming of the final movement of Das Lied von der Erde, Abschied, that word has come to mean, for many music lovers, death and the end of just about everything, as it does in that work; this despite the eternal renewing epilogue of the music. But Abschied is an innocent little word merely meaning farewell, and not in any terminal sense. Take Haydn’s Symphony of that name. His idea was a joke, to bring to the attention of his patron that the musicians deserved, and needed, a holiday. That it’s one of his Sturm und Drang period works doesn’t make it any the darker or more deeply felt, in an emotional sense. Haydn’s ruse worked and the well deserved holiday was granted. Kissóczy directs a passionate and fiery account of this music, very well conceived for the piece, and the ending, where the players drop out one by one, as if leaving, is nicely delivered. This is as finely considered a performance of this work as I have heard.
Frank Martin’s Pavane couleur du temps – it seems impossible viably to render it into English, the translation Colour of the Weather Pavane seems ludicrous, what did he have in mind at the time of composition, one wonders – is a slow movement with an air of solemnity and nobility. Quite what it has to do with the concept of farewell is beyond me, perhaps his use of the title Pavane evoked, for someone, memories of Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante defunte and thus it seemed to fit into a collection of Farewells. It’s a fine piece, but there’s nothing of a departure about it, and the strangely equivocal ending is mystifying. Wladimir Vogel’s Abschied is more the kind of thing I would have expected here. This is an atmospheric and sustained lament, beautifully laid out for strings alone. Herman Haller’s similarly titled work is a setting of words by Juan Ramón Jiménez in a translation by Hans Leopold Davi, whose first half is a protest for the strings alone. On the entry of the voice, the music becomes calmer and more lyrical. Throughout there’s some nicely contrasted writing for solo and massed strings but I have to say that the piece outstays its welcome, for there is too little material to sustain nearly a quarter of an hour’s music. Barbara Böhl’s singing is very fine, with a good line and a sensitive and intelligent use of vibrato.
I first encountered the music of Hans Schaeuble when I reviewed a CD devoted to archive recordings of his music (GUILD 2332) and I was impressed. This Symphony was written in 1943/1944, for strings, and then reworked and incorporated into his 2nd Symphony, as the 3rd and 4th movements. Thirty-three years later he returned to the original score and added a part for timpani, and this is the version we have here. Dedicated to “my Berlin friend and promoter Oswald Schrenk” the music is deeply felt, and, oddly, at times, has an English feel. It’s a beautifully written score and one is left wondering why it’s seldom, if ever, heard.
This is a fascinating collection, played with style and grace, and recorded in excellent sound, with a feeling of space, the orchestra being placed slightly away from the microphones. The booklet contains, different, notes in English, by Robert Matthew Walker and German, by Guy Andrea Lang. I can heartily commend this to anyone, not just those interested in music of the period, nor those seeking unusual repertoire, for this is music which deserves to be heard.
Bob Briggs

Aargauer Zeitung vom 3.12.2010

«Farewell» steht über der neuen CD der Camerata Zürich. Primär zielt der Titel auf das Programm, sekundär auch auf den Dirigenten: Seit 2002 leitete der 49-jährige Marc Kissoczy die Camerata, 2011 übernimmt der Berner Cellist Thomas Demenga die Leitung. Kissoczy und die Camerata verstehen auf der CD sowohl Joseph Haydns Abschiedssinfonie entschlossen und durchhörbar zu erzählen als auch den schwärmerisch spätromantischen von Frank Martin (1890–1974) zu feiern. In Wladimir Vogels (1896–1984) «Abschied» aus dem Jahr 1973 erschafft Kissoczy prächtige Spannungsbögen, in Hermann Hallers (1914–2002) «Abschied» entfacht er dramatisches Feuer und begleitet alsbald die Sopranistin Barbara Böhi feinsinnig klug. Überaus schlüssig auch die Interpretation von Hans Schäubles (1906–1988) «In Memoriam», einem Stück für Streichorchester und Pauke.
CHRISTIAN BERZINS