Honegger: Pastorale d'été; Symphony No. 4; Une cantate de Noël / Christopher Maltman, baritone

Audio Samples

>Honegger, Arthur : Pastorale d'ete, symphonic poem for chamber orchestra, H. 31
>Honegger, Arthur : Symphony no 4 ("Deliciae Basiliensis"), H. 191
>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noel (A Christmas Cantata)
>     De profundis clamavi
>     Ne craignez point
>     Laudate Dominum omnes gentes

Album Summary

>Honegger, Arthur : Pastorale d'ete, symphonic poem for chamber orchestra, H. 31
>Honegger, Arthur : Symphony no 4 ("Deliciae Basiliensis"), H. 191
>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noel (A Christmas Cantata)
Performer Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

In these live concert recordings, Jurowski conducts the LPO in 3 of Honegger's most lyrical works including the dreamy Pastorale d'été, the nostalgic 4th Symphony, subtitled 'The Delights of Basel' in remembrance of the sanctuary offered by the Swiss city during the war, and his final composition, the reflective and heartfelt Cantate de Noël. "Of course, anything conducted by Vladimir Jurowski is worth hearing." Richard Morrison, The Times, March 2007. Jurowski became the LPO's 12th Principal Conductor in Sept. '07 and this CD is the latest in his ever-growing catalogue with the LPO on its own label.

"[The Fourth Symphony] is full of charm and tactile invention, vividly realised in this live recording. The polyglot, quite vigorous Christmas cantata embraces a carol sequence, Silent Night (in German) making a touching appearance halfway through the middle movement." -The Sunday Times

"Pastorale d'Eté depicts a country landscape under shimmering heat. The problematic Fourth Symphony, swivelling inconsequentially between neoclassical austerity and tentative lyricism, was written in the aftermath of the second world war. The Cantata itself – Honegger's last work, composed when he was terminally ill – glances longingly and tenderly at ideas of new beginnings before gradually retreating towards its final" -The Guardian

"All three works on this unexpectedly satisfying CD communicate a joie de vivre without ever sounding lightweight. The jaunty Symphony No 4 is performed with the wit and subtlety it deserves, bringing out the song-like character of its three movements. Pastorale d’été is a dreamy orchestral summerscape, Une Cantate de Noël a radiant choral celebration of the human and the divine." -The Financial Times

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (03/28/2007); Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London (03/28/2007); Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (12/05/2009); Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, London (12/05/2009).



Reviews

Honegger/Pastorale DíEte/Symphony no.4/Une Cantate de Noel/LPO
Letís start this review on a positive note. The London Philharmonic is a pretty amazing orchestra. The second piece on this CD is a live performance and for an orchestra to play so accurately for 25 minutes without one clam, is an incredible feat.

Now, less positive- the music of Honegger. The first track is ĎPastorale díeteí and I remember as a young composition major this was one of my favourite pieces. Ah, the exuberant enthusiasms of youth. Now all the phrasing, orchestration, and contour of the music seems so predictable ĖIím sorry, Debussy and Ravel do it much better. In some way, the neo-classism of the 20ís was such a bourgeoisie escape not only from the horrors of the great war, but the insecurity of the indulgent mushiness of Debussy, the atonality of Schoenberg, the still-ringing-in-my-ears, Teutonic over-the-topness of Wagner, and the barbarism of Stravinsky. And funny to this day classical music orchestras and their tin-eared, paper-shuffling bureaucracy, are looking for pieces like this to calm the patrons about their retirement funds, Johnny burning down the school, and my wife is a secret crack head etc., etc.

The second cut is Symphony no4 and is even more of a neo-classical retreat.As I already mentioned, itís an astonishing performance and in retrospect the conductor Vladimir Jurowski maybe could of shaped it more in terms of tempos or climaxes. But that could have been over-cautiousness, as it was a recorded live performance. Or it is my opinion there is no guts in the music to shape to begin with. Anyway, this piece is perfect for those 4 to 6pm classical commuter stations and sounds like vaguely like English film music from the 50ís and 60ís with all the post Delius/Holst affectations. There are a lot of transparent contrapuntal lines (using bitonality sparingly to articulate a melody) in a faux-Mozartian (especially in the woodwinds), the composer rejecting all imaginative orchestral color as just too much work. To think that Messiaenís Turangalila was written around the same time and Cage, Boulez, and Stockhausen are just around the corner. The word Ďjauntyí springs to mind.

The final cut, Une Cantate de Noel, opens with the same predictable phrasing.It is very difficult to buy the angst in this score, especially when it goes for the big climaxes. Itís almost 40ís film-music angst. This could be ĎGone with the Windí. All the major Brit composers of the late 19th and 20th century do this kind of music better. To summarize the general progression of the work Ėit goes from purgatorial dark to happy faux-Handel. In the climax is a big thick sus. chord that seems wholly inappropriate . As with other Honegger climaxes, itís ill prepared, forced, and the seams connecting it to the rest of the music are frayed and awkward. But if you love the playing of the LPO and want some jauntiness with that, get this CD.

Submitted on 12/28/11 by Mike Maguire 
Jaunty, accessible, sombre, spiritual Honegger
This new disc fom the LPO illustrates Honegger's journey from his modernist period as a member of Les Six in 1920s Paris to his less ironic and more expressive maturity in the 1940s and 50s. The earliest work on the disc, the 1920 Pastorale d'Ete, is a sometimes jaunty and jazzy trip into the countryside. It has a pastoral feel, but it's often slightly off-centre. This is a fascinating, and for me immensely appealing, seven minutes of music.

Honegger, like Villa-Lobos who took a similar journey during the same years, was swimming upstream in the post-WWII period. His 4th Symphony was designed to be just the opposite of the fashionable music of the day: accessible and expressive. In 1946 Honegger wanted to give his audience, and perhaps himself, some relief from the austerities of the post-war world. This music might have seemed old-fashioned and even banal at the time, but I appreciate its directness and simplicity.

Honegger's final composition is the 1953 Christmas Cantata, which was written during his final illness. The first movement is very dark - sombre seems too light a word for the oppressive mood Honegger creates. But of course darkness is part of many Christmas stories, from the Massacre of the Innocents to the depressing first draft of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. When Honegger lets the light in, the effect is magical. This is deeply spiritual music, well-crafted and very moving.

So much credit for this excellent disc goes to the conductor Vladimir Jurowski. As he explains at the LPO website, he believes that Honegger deserves a much higher reputation than his present quite modest ranking. Jurowski seems to have communicated this passion to the musicians who performed at the Royal Festival and Queen Elizabeth Hall concerts recorded for this CD. And he's convinced me!


Submitted on 12/13/11 by Dean Frey 
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Works Details

>Honegger, Arthur : Pastorale d'été, symphonic poem for chamber orchestra, H. 31
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Ensemble: New London Children's Choir
  • Running Time: 7 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1920

>Honegger, Arthur : Symphony no 4 ("Deliciae Basiliensis"), H. 191
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Running Time: 24 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1946

>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata) :: De profundis clamavi
  • Performer: Christopher Maltman (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Running Time: 8 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1952-1953

>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata) :: Ne craignez point
  • Performer: Christopher Maltman (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Running Time: 7 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1952-1953

>Honegger, Arthur : Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata) :: Laudate Dominum omnes gentes
  • Performer: Christopher Maltman (Baritone)
  • Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski
  • Running Time: 6 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Christmas
  • Written: 1952-1953