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Symphonic Music: March 2009 Archives

Danish Romantic

Danacord DACOCD436-437

Victor Bendix

Symphony #1 "Mountain Climbing" in C Major, Op. 16 (1882)
Symphony #2 "Sounds of Summer from South Russia" in D Major, Op. 20 (1888)
Symphony #3 in A minor, Op. 25, (1895)
Symphony #4 in D minor, Op. 30 (1906)

Omsk Philharmonic Orchestra/Evgenyi Shestakov
Danacord DACOCD436-437 133:27

The Danish composer Bendix's music is difficult to compare to that of others. It's extremely approachable music but its influences are elusive: you might hear a couple of bars that sound like Schumann, a phrase might remind you of Saint-Saëns, a tutti sounds vaguely like Bruckner, and maybe Schubert or Dvořák or Brahms will make a brief appearance, only to be replaced by someone else. All of this is not meant to suggest that Bendix is wildly derivative, but if Romantic orchestral music is among your passions, this will appeal. And no, I'd never heard of the Omsk Philharmonic nor its conductor either, but they acquit themselves very well. There is also a piano concerto by Bendix available ().

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic ]

Orchestral Tour de Force

Albany TROY1017

Lee Actor
(b. 1952)

Violin Concerto (2005)
Symphony #2 (2006)
Timpani Concerto (2005)

Pip Clarke, violin
Stuart Chafetz, timpani
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra/Kirk Trevor
Albany TROY1017 67:11

One of the advantages of the internet is the ability to be able to sample music before buying it: for many, perhaps, the recent dates of the works on this CD would be an immediate turn-off. Although timpani concertos are not for everyone – and this one is the shortest of the three pieces – the other two works have much to recommend them. The symphony has a variety of moods ranging from the bleak to the jovial as in Shostakovich's 9th symphony. The violin concerto in many ways reminds me of Britten's. Actor is yet another American composer to watch.

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Dramatic Atmosphere

BIS CD-618

Vagn Holmboe

Symphony #8 "Sinfonia Boreale", Op. 56 (1951)
Symphony #9, Op. 95 (1969)

Aarhus Symphony Orchestra/Owain Arwel Hughes
BIS CD-618 65:25

The Danish composer Holmboe wrote thirteen numbered symphonies and Sinfonia in Memoriam, all of which have been recorded by BIS. The eighth is the best known of these. In the symphonies generally, there are the expected influence of Nielsen and a very dramatic atmosphere with more than a hint of menace. Those with a taste for such composers as Shostakovich will find Holmboe to their liking. He was a prolific composer and there are a number of other orchestral works and concertos to explore, not to mention twenty-one string quartets!

Read the Classical Net Review

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

Musical Odyssey

CPO 999875-2

Ernst Boehe

Tragic Overture, Op. 10
Symphonic Poem "Odysseus' Voyages", Op. 6
    Departure & Shipwreck
    The Island of Circe
    The Lament of Nausicaa

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra/Werner Andreas Albert
CPO 999875-2 74:29

CPO 999908-2

Symphonic Poem "Odysseus' Voyages", Op. 6
    Odysseus' Homecoming
Symphonic Poem "Taormina"
Symphonic Epilogue to a Tragedy, Op. 11

Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra/Werner Andreas Albert
CPO 999908-2 77:52

Boehe was a native of Munich and a friend of Richard Strauss, whose influence and that of Wagner are apparent in what seems to be most of his orchestral output on these two CDs: the only biographical information I could find comes from the liner notes. The four long symphonic poems which comprise From Odysseus' Voyages last a few minutes too long to be accommodated on one CD. Boehe was better known as a conductor, mainly with the forerunner of the present Rheinland orchestra. All the music is scored for a very large orchestra and apart from the influences above, often sounds more than a little like Suk. The CDs are available separately but buying only one means you miss part of the Odysseus cycle.

[ Volume 1 available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

[ Volume 2 available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan - ArkivMusic - CD Universe ]

Director of the Peabody Institute

Marco Polo dacapo 8.224088

Asger Hamerik

Symphony #3 "Symphonie lyrique" in E Major, Op. 33 (1883-84)
Symphony #4 "Symphonie majestueuse" in C Major, Op. 35 (1888-89)

Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard
Marco Polo dacapo 8.224088 72:58

The Danish composer Hamerik is the best-known of a family of composers and among other achievements, was for many years a leading light in the musical life of Baltimore. Some of his training was with Berlioz and although his music does not sound like that of the French master, he does make some use of the idée fixe as in the fourth symphony. Dausgaard leads very spirited performances which show the music in its best light. Da Capo has recorded Hamerik's other five symphonies, the last of them a choral work. (Symphonies #1 & 2 8.224076; Symphonies #5 & 6 8.224161; Symphony #7 & Requiem 8.226033)

[ Available on CD: Amazon - UK - Germany - Canada - France - Japan ]

[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]

An American Pioneer

New World NW350-2

John Knowles Paine

Symphony #2 "In Springtime" in A Major, Op. 34 (1880)

New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Zubin Mehta
New World NW350-2 (Reissued as 80350) 50:26

Much of Paine's musical training occurred in Germany and thus it was the musical thought of that country which influenced his composition. During his long teaching career, Paine taught composition to such diverse composers as Arthur Foote, John Alden Carpenter and Carl Ruggles.

The second of his two symphonies, regarded as the first significant works in that form by an American composer, is somewhat longer than the first and was premiered in Boston. Its most noticeable influence is Schumann. The first symphony was recorded for New World by the same forces. His symphonies do not sound American but as trailblazers they deserve to be better known.

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[ Sheet music by this composer: Sheet Music Plus - ]