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Honegger: Cantate de Noël, Cello Concerto, etc / Fischer, Rutherford, Gerhardt, et al

Album Summary

>Honegger, Arthur : Horace victorieux, "mimed symphony" for orchestra ("Symphonie mimee"), H. 38
>Honegger, Arthur : Concerto for Cello in C major, H. 72
>Honegger, Arthur : Prelude, fugue, postlude, for orchestra (extracted from Amphion), H. 71a
>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noel, for vocal soloist, chorus, children's chorus & orchestra, H. 212
Performers Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Honegger's 'Une Cantate de Noel' is Christmas music with a difference. His last work and one of his most popular compositions, it was written for the Basle Chamber Choir and Orchestra in 1953. The text of the cantata is derived from liturgical and popular texts. A notable feature is the intertwining of traditional carols in French and German. This combination of the different texts and forms creates a wonderfully uplifting effect. This recording from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Thierry Fischer also includes a selection of other works by Honegger, including his 'Cello Concerto' which was premiered in Boston in 1930. It is a charming, urbanely lyrical work, with a distinct tinge of jazz. It is played here by the brilliant young cellist Alban Gerhardt, celebrated for his performances of little-known cello concertos in Hyperion's Romantic Cello Concerto series.

'Here is an excellent introduction to a still underrated composer ... In the Concerto, Alban Gerhardt ranges from the seductive to the sensational: for the opening, Thierry Fischer conjures up a wonderful dream atmosphere, and at the other end of the scale Gerhardt gives a terrific account of Maurice Maréchal's authorised cadenza ... [Prélude, Fugue et Postlude] is one of Honegger's great unknown masterpieces, and Fischer's orchestral balance captures perfectly the personal quality of the three majestic chords that open the Prélude - they could be by no-one else' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This gleaming new recording ... The Cello Concerto is a debonair score with a bluesy turn-of-phrase that suggests Honegger was spinning Duke Ellington records on his turntable. Gerhardt plays with genuine soul' (Classic FM Magazine)

'This beautfully judged account of Honegger's Christmas cantata, his last complete work, makes this collection an appropriately seasonal release. But the three other major works here are fascinating ... Alban Gerhardt, who seems to make a speciality of less well known 20th-century cello concertos, is the outstanding soloist' (The Guardian)

'Fischer directs controlled but expressive accounts of all four works which would grace any collector's shelves' (Gramophone)

'If Santa can only bring you one present this Christmas, make it the Hyperion recording of Honegger's Une Cantate de Noel' (Birmingham Post)

'This superbly recorded release significantly adds to the Honegger discography. Despite giving top billing to "Une Cantate de Noël", all four works here are of the highest level of craftsmanship' (ClassicalSource.com)

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
The works collected here cover the full range of Honegger's mature career, from the volatile 'mimed symphony' Horace victorieux, his first major orchestral utterance (1920-21), to his final completed work, Une cantate de Noël (1952-53).

In expressive range, the music alternates from Yuletide light and shade to the Stravinskian high jinks of the Cello Concerto's finale (1929), to the high drama of Horace victorieux, not otherwise available.

Horace victorieux was the first real indication of Honegger's natural genius for large-scale orchestral composition. Based on Livy's bloodthirsty tale of Publius Horatius, the score combines vigorous, martial allegros depicting the combat and evocative lyrical episodes for the uneasy love of Horatius's sister for his enemy, Curiatius.

Heard in abstract, it proves a compelling symphonic poem of elemental power. There is a hint of the same quality in the less intense Prelude, Fugue and Postlude Honegger extracted in 1948 from his 1929 score for Amphion, although its atmosphere - based on Greek myth - is quite peaceable. There is a real touch of Christmas to the Cantata, one of Honegger's most popular works despite its gloomy, tonally ambiguous opening quarter. It is excellently sung.

Fischer directs controlled but expressive accounts of all four works which would grace any collector's shelves. Gerhardt is excellent in the Concerto, although its delicate, plaintive opening is eclipsed by proximity to Horace's close. Hyperion's superb recording has much to commend it, dealing superbly with some huge dynamic ranges.



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Works Details

>Honegger, Arthur : Horace victorieux, "mimed symphony" for orchestra ("Symphonie mimée"), H. 38
  • Conductor: Thierry Fischer
  • Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
  • Notes: Brangwyn Hall, Guildhall, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales (02/20/2008-02/23/2008)
  • Running Time: 20 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1921

>Honegger, Arthur : Concerto for Cello in C major, H. 72
  • Performer: Alban Gerhardt (Cello)
  • Conductor: Thierry Fischer
  • Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
  • Notes: Brangwyn Hall, Guildhall, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales (02/20/2008-02/23/2008)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 4 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1929

>Honegger, Arthur : Prélude, fugue, postlude, for orchestra (extracted from Amphion), H. 71a
  • Conductor: Thierry Fischer
  • Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
  • Notes: Brangwyn Hall, Guildhall, Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales (02/20/2008-02/23/2008)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1948

>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noël, for vocal soloist, chorus, children's chorus & orchestra, H. 212
  • Performers: Robert Court (Organ); James Rutherford (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Thierry Fischer
  • Ensemble: BBC National Orchestra of Wales
  • Running Time: 10 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1952-1953