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Honegger: Symphony No.5 (DG The Originals) Import

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 1. Vocifération funèbreGeorges Gitton 5:37£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 2. LibationGeorges Gitton 2:23£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 3. IncantationGeorges Gitton13:19£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 4. PrésagesGeorges Gitton 2:58£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 5. ExhortationGeorges Gitton 2:31£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 6. La Justice et la lumièreGeorges Gitton 4:12£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Milhaud: Les Choéphores - 7. ConclusionGeorges Gitton0:50£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Honegger: Symphony No.5 - "Di tre re" - 1. GraveIgor Markevitch 7:47£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Honegger: Symphony No.5 - "Di tre re" - 2. Allegretto - Adagio - AllegrettoIgor Markevitch 9:06£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen10. Honegger: Symphony No.5 - "Di tre re" - 3. Allegro marcatoIgor Markevitch 5:39£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen11. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - AndanteIgor Markevitch 2:29£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen12. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Lento (Elle regarde avec étonnement de tous côtés)Igor Markevitch 2:27£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen13. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Allegro (Bacchus danse seul)Igor Markevitch 1:56£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen14. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Andante (Le baiser)Igor Markevitch 2:26£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen15. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Allegro deciso (Le Thiase défile)Igor Markevitch0:41£0.39  Buy MP3 
Listen16. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Andante (Danse d'Ariane)Igor Markevitch 3:27£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen17. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Moderato e pesante (Danse d'Ariane et de Bacchus)Igor Markevitch0:59£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen18. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Allegro brillante (Bacchanale)Igor Markevitch 2:47£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen19. Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Op.43 / Suite No.2 - Allegro moltoIgor Markevitch 1:26£0.79  Buy MP3 

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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Fois gras 4 Aug. 2000
By Mark McCue - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
These stupendous performances, showing the great Markevitch at his best, date from the late 50s and have been coveted in various DG, Epic, US Decca vinyl guises for years and years.
As an artist, Markevitch was true caviar--his mania for quality in material and orchestral execution was well-known and sometimes led to grumpiness from musicians who thought he was a slave-driver. Nevertheless, the musicians of the Lamoureux elected him as conductor and -- poof -- the orchestra went immediately to a golden age. Not since Paul Paray had the musicians had so much celebrity.
They play like it here. All these works are a bear to play, but what exudes from this disk is a supreme sense of confidence and surrender to the conductor. The Chorephores is a moving work with music in utter service of text--Markevitch has it worked in so closely that the blandishments of the words sound almost like a psychological examination. The performances from which this recording stems were runaway critical successes in Paris and it was hard to get tickets. The Brasseur Chorus, always a crack outfit, outdoes itself in tone, mimicry, rythmic attention.
The B & A is one of the great readings: listen to the incredible wind and brass execution as it runs the gamut from ppp to fff without any loss in tone or character in the vibrato. Markevitch keeps everything within the realm of dance: rythms are strong but not clompy, tonal beauty is never sacrificed in favor of volume, the ebb and flow is so natural that you forget how many tempo changes the score has. It's masterful beyond words. Those who feel Martinon in Chicago was the end-all in this piece had better listen to this-the CSO can and has been outplayed, more often than not in French music.
And the Di Tre Re: Possibly Honegger's greatest work, it's never had greater advocacy than here. I'm not throwing out my Munch or Ansermet, but Markevitch and the Lamoureux impart a luminous, transluscent quality to the work, in a great part due to superior execution (the orchestra has done it under a number of conductors). Dating from 1960, it's a wonder more maestri haven't taken a cue from this performance and programmed the work more often. One answer may be: it's hard and takes a lot of guts and fortitude to come up with a magnificent performance as the Lamoureux has here.
All in all, if you love Milhaud, Roussel, Honegger...this is a classic disk with virtues so overpowering that it's unique on the market today.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
French modernism at its most ambitious, in historical mono recordings 11 Jun. 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
DG released these three prime examples of Parisian modernism in 1957 (Milhaud and Honegger) and 1960 (Roussel), late enough that it's fairly inexplicable why all are monaural. I am as enthusiastic about Markevitch's performance as the two previous reviewers, but realistically this CD is for listeners with a special interest in the period between the wars when all three composers were at the peak of their reputations. Even though Honegger's Sym. #5 was composed in 1950, this music evokes the rich artistic culture that was once Paris. The Second World War ended French dominance in all the arts. As composers, Boulez and Messiaen were more important than any postwar French painter, but in truth the musical dominance of Paris beginning around 1910 depended on refugees and emigrants like Stravinsky and Prokofiev, Copland and Koussevitzky.

Which is to say that Rouseel and Les Six seem today like minor figures; their brand of modernism couldn't compete with the Second Viennese School harmonically, and their talents were not on the scale of the great Russians. I imagine that DG's release of these historical recordings is due more to the latter-day cult around Igor Markevitch -- another Russian -- than the music itself. the Lamoureux orchestra's playing is flavorful and very Gallic, but for sheer ability the musicianship displays the depleted state of French orchestras until they were revived by forming new ensembles like the Orchestre de Paris and the Orchestre National de France. Expect squeaky woodwinds and thin strings, not helped by thinness in the recording as well.

and the scores? Two are based on Greek mythology, Les Chorephores (The Libation Bearers) being an oratorio that takes off from Aeschylus's treatment of the story of Elektra and Orestes, the same one that Strauss made his opera from, while Roussel's Bacchus et Ariane is based on the same story that Strauss used for another opera, Ariadne auf Naxos. The French versions are not masterpieces, but their composers employ the devices of modernism, including motor rhythms, primitivist sounds in the percussion, jagged mottoes instead of melody, modal harmonies, and of course, dissonance. Honegger's symphony, tightly arranged in its formal construction, has the subtitle "Di Tre Re," referring to three drumbeats on the note D (Re in Italian). The very truncated program notes make a case for this music being an anguished response to the bleakness of the postwar world under the shadow of the Bomb, but Honegger can't escape his roots, and the middle movement twitters and dithers away in the usual mode of Poulenc or Milhaud. The finale features agitated, mechanized motor rhythms, reminding us of Honeggger's famous homage to the locomotive, Pacific 231. Only the first movement, marked Grave, seems to me like an outcry of anguish, although both outer movements are powerful.

Les Chorephores was also recorded, in stereo, by Leonard Bernstein, who himself felt the pull of Paris thanks to his teacher and mentor Aaron Copland. That reading, on a special Sony release, is better sung than Markevitch's, but even Bernstein's charisma can't surpass this DG release for sounding so purely French. The highlight of both recordings is the Exhortation, which features a fervent spoken narrative with interjections by a muttering chorus and percussion. The remaining movements have o special bearing on Greek tragedy and seem to me like Milhaud tying hard to be forceful, with moderate results.

Like the Suite no. 2 from Daphnis and Chloe, the second suite from Roussel's ballet begins near the en and gives us the climax, as Ariadne is visited on the island of Naxos by the god Bacchus, who kisses her and thus makes her immortal. Roussel's modernism has always struck me as sounding self-taught, and at its best it achieves an allure like the primitive-but-modern paintings of Rousseau. I don't think anyone will hear any particular match between this music and the Greek myth -- we are simply in Roussel's world, as we would be in any of his symphonies. If you like his idiom, this is a leading example, along with the Third Sym.

I don't mean to downplay the pleasure to be had from this CD, a one of a kind memento and valuable for that reason. All three works are among the most engaging of their composers. But I felt that earlier reviewers had oversold the scores and the playing of the Lamoureux Orchestra. Setting that aside, this is an intense dose of Parisian modernism at its most ambitious.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
great versions marred by DG's antiquated mono sonics 12 Mar. 2013
By Discophage - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Milhaud's Les Chéophores op. 24 (The Libation Bearers) is a strange work. Written between 1913 and 1915, it is Part II of a trilogy on the Agamemnon-Electra-Orestes story, framed by Agamemnon op. 14 (1913-1914) and Les Euménides op. 41 (whose composition was begun in 1917 and completed only in 1924). Agamemnon and Les Choéphores are in fact the incidental music ("musique de scène") for the plays adapted by the famous French poet and playwright Paul Claudel from the two first tragedies of Aeschylus' Oresteia, while Les Euménides is a fully-fledged, three-act opera. Les Choéphores deals with the Electra story, the same episode put to music by Strauss. Milhaud was a young composer of 21 when he began work in 1913, but his typical style is fully there already, the vocal writing very declamatory and closely modeled after the rhythm of the spoken language but with some occasional twists, the bizarre and grating polytonal harmonies. The incidental music of Les Choéphores starts with a "funeral vociferation" (translated here by "lamentation", which waters down the original meaning), and the words are pretty dramatic ("On my cheek the crimson glow / Doth shine, that hands have printed fresh / With furrowing nails on tender flesh") but with Milhaud it sounds like a hymn of joy. Masochist libation bearers maybe. Jest apart, the music is interesting here at least for this unsentimental approach, this very contradiction between words and music. Still, Milhaud certainly doesn't appear in Les Choéphores as a natural-born melodist, although, getting used to the composer's particular style, at least you recognize familiar Milhaud, to the hilt. But Choéphores does stand out for its moments of fine lamenting pathos (track 2 "Libation", soprano over wordless chorus) and for its powerful incantations (track 3). But above all, Les Choéphores features three extraordinary passages of powerful and violent Sprechgesang (spoken, rhythmically notated) over percussion accompaniment and chorus singing onomatopeia, and at times even blowing whistles (track 4 "Présages" / "Omens", 5 "Exhortation" and the short "Conclusion", track 7). This is Carl Orff (and Orff's Antigonae especially comes to mind, see my review of Orff: Antigonae) decades before Carl Orff "invented" (or copied from Milhaud?) the typical Carl Orff style, and really here Milhaud is decades ahead of his time.

For reasons unknown to me (but which might have had to do with this very radicalism), there elapsed a long period of time between composition and premiere performance of each part of the trilogy: almost fifteen years for Agamemnon, premiered in 1927 (with the Straram Orchestra under its founder Walter Straram). Only excerpts of Choéphores were played in 1919 under Felix Delgrange, and the first staged performance happened in Brussels in 1935. Only the finale of Euménides was performed in 1928 under Louis de Vocht, the first complete performance took place only in 1949 in Brussels under Frans André. The first stage performance of the complete trilogy took place at the Berlin Deutsche Oper in April 1963 under Heinrich Hollreiser. All this information comes from the website of Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Not that Choéphores is a frequent encounter on disc either - in fact, I am aware of only two recordings, this one by Markevitch in 1957 and Bernstein in 1961 (Milhaud: Les Choéphores / Honegger: Symphony No. 5 / Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane), and thereafter everybody apparently considered that the deed had been done and enough tribute had been paid to Milhaud's composition - but at least it has been recorded; never so with the two other pendants of the trilogy. I heard the complete cycle once on the French radio (I probably have a tape of it somewhere in my cellar, surely demagnetized by now), and the two others didn't sound stylistically inferior or even different from Les Choéphores. It'd be nice if someone completed the task and recorded the complete cycle. Hello, Timpani, anybody listening?

Markevitch conducts with consumate style and a fine group of singers (Swiss baritone Heinz Rehfuss sings with perfect French accent, and traces of strain in the upper registers), if stylistically smacking of a bygone era of French opera and declamation, and speaker Claude Nollier (that's a she) acquits herself magnificently, with great dramatic impact, of the Sprechgesang passages. But whatever its merits, Markevitch's version suffers from its antiquated mono sonics (RCA and even EMI recorded in stereo since 1955, but not DG apparently) that lack impact and let many orchestral details blurred and inaudible (especially lamentable with the percussion accompanniment in the Sprechgesang movements), and makes the chorus close to inintellegible if you are not following with the printed text. Bernstein's American chorus, singers and speaker may not have as perfect a French accent as Markevitch forces, but, for Americans, their French accents are fine enough (except for McHenry Boatwright singing Orestes) and only French-fluently-speaking listeners will perceive and may be bothered by the americanisms; Bernstein conducts a fine performance also, if not as taut and urgent and biting as Markevitch's, and his cast of singers may not be as good as Markevitch's (Irene Jordan sounds like a powerful dramatic soprano but her bottom range is very chesty, and so is contralto Virginia Babikian, and Boatwright has a big and firm voice, but none of the nobility of Rehfuss), but it is really Bernstein's 1961 Columbia sonics that make a world of difference, between a vivid sonic experience and a mere document. However, one asset of Markevitch's-DG's edition over Sony-Bernstein's is that it provides the much-needed original text with English translation - Sony only offers a synopsis, which in the case of this very peculiar composition is as good as nothing. And if you find Lewis Campbell's English somewhat pompous, don't worry - it is only being faithful to the style of Claudel. The translation is not always entirely accurate, but Claudel's very peculiar poetic style, a mixture of the highfalutin and the prosaic, is close to untranslatable, and Campbell provides a close enough idea.

Honeggger's 5th Symphony was the generous filler of Markevitch's Choéphores on the original LP (reproduction of cover photo provided). It's a fine performance, very close in spirit and interpretive choices to Munch's pionerring 1953 recording with the BSO in the first two movements (Milhaud: La Creation du monde Op. 81; Suite Provencale: Honegger: Symphonies No. 2 & 5) and even slightly more urgent than him in the Finale, but hampered again by sonics that let some important instrumental details get burried in the first movement (like the ominous trumpets in the build-up to movement's climax, from 3:26 onwards), and deprives the grim and aggressive music of the Finale of much impact. Munch has much more clarity, transparency and impact. In fact compared to RCA's transfer for Munch, DG's sonics sound like they date from 1953 and those of Munch from 1957.

I'll return later to Roussel's 2nd Suite from Bacchus & Ariane, a recording from December 1958, originally paired with Debussy's La Mer. Independent even of it, this "Originals" edition is a great document for collectors, but for listeners simply looking for great versions of the respective compositions, the sonics are a real impediment and they should go to Bernstein's version for Milhaud (with arguably the best recordings of Honegger's Pacific 231 and Rugby, and Roussel's Third Symphony, a generous offering), and to the best stereo recordings for Honegger's 5th Symphony, Serge Baudo's, part of his fine traversal of the complete symphonies recorded between 1960 and 1973 (Honegger-Symphonies [Complete]) but also available (at a price) individually, Honegger : Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique" Symphony No. 5 "Di Tre Re" Pacific 231 [RARE], Charles Dutoit's, an excellent version lacking only the touch of rawness and brutality the works require (Arthur Honegger: Symphony No. 3 "Liturgique" / Symphony No. 5 "Di Tre Re" - Charles Dutoit) or one of the great Honegger discs of all time, Neeme Järvi (Honegger: Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 3; Pacific 231).
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Amazing performances of neglected masterworks 23 Aug. 2007
By Houyhnhnm - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Darius Milhaud work on this CD gets my vote for his best serious work, and the most unjustly ignored work of the 20th century. But Markevitch doesn't ignore it; he provides an amazing interpretation. The fifth movement, the Exhortation, for emphatic narrator and chorus, with shouts and prominent percussion, is in a class by itself. This is dramatic choral music, indeed.

The sound on the album suffers a bit from the technology used at the time it was made. It is not modern. It doesn't do the performance complete justice. But it is not at all bad -- indeed, I'm listening to it on headphones as I type, and it does not detract much at all from the experience, something I cannot say for most recordings prior to 1960. (Stravinsky's remark about early recordings is perfect in most cases, if not this: "It sounds like music coming from a closet." But what about the new Hi-Fi? "Music coming from two closets.") Still, it is the greatness of the performance that make this recording a must-have.

Arthur Honegger's symphony is another gem, here. It is his most cerebral symphony, and Markevitch finds the right balance, bringing out the flurry of movement and color and motivic interest. It is too often maligned as the least successful of the composer's later symphonic works. Perhaps if those doing the bad-mouthing had heard this recording, the general opinion would be much higher. Indeed, after listening to this performance I upgraded the work to the peak of Honegger's output. It is, in its way, a perfect thing, a marvel of control and formal beauty.

I have little useful to say about the Albert Roussel work; I've never cared for the composer, and though this work is fine as it is, it doesn't move me. Others will no doubt disagree. But for me, it is the Milhaud performance that makes up the main course, the Honegger the dessert. The Roussel work is the doggie bag treat. (Roussel fans will hate me; c'est la vie.)
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