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  • Pepping: Complete Symphonies 1-3; Piano Concerto
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Pepping: Complete Symphonies 1-3; Piano Concerto

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Product details

  • Orchestra: North-West German Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Werner Andreas Albert
  • Composer: Ernst Pepping
  • Audio CD (29 May 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Cpo
  • ASIN: B000F6YWNK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,866 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Allegro
2. Molto Adagio
3. Risoluto
4. Finale
5. Molto Sostenuto
6. Tranquillo
7. Allegro Spirituoso
8. Maestoso
Disc: 2
1. Allegro 'Der Morgen'
2. Maestoso 'Der Tag'
3. Adagio 'Der Abend'
4. Agitato 'Die Nacht'
5. Etwas Ruhig, Tanzerisch/Lebhaft/Scheneller
6. Langsam
7. Schnell/Sehr Schnell

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 20 Jun. 2006
If it weren't a really bad pun, I'd say that the music of Pepping is peppy. Oops, I guess I just did say it. And it's mostly true, although a better adjective would be 'sunny.' There's something strangely endearing about the music of Ernst Pepping (1901-1981): although he was much younger than Mahler, and never knew him or studied with him, his music uses many of Mahler's gestures, at least in many passages, but it doesn't have the neurotic intensity of Mahler's in spite of the similar hyperchromaticism and dense polyphony. I find that refreshing. Make no mistake, I don't think his music has the greatness of Mahler's but it is neatly made, always interesting and displays mastery of melody, rhythm, harmony and counterpoint. There is, I suppose, a somewhat didactic quality to the music -- witness the classic forms, the use of fugal passages and the like -- but underneath one always detects a heart. Other influences: Nielsen's intentional gaucherie (those wide-interval slow tremolos, for instance), Bruckner's brass chorales.

To the degree that Pepping is known to the larger world, it is as a composer of sacred music -- although I have to confess I don't know any of it. Indeed this is the first music of Pepping's that I've ever heard. He was somewhat avant garde early on, and concentrated on sacred music afterwards, but for a period during and after the Second World War he concentrated on orchestral music. The three symphonies were written in a period of five years (1939, 1942, 1944) and are of a piece. The writer of the booklet notes attempts to make distinctions between the symphonies, but to my ears they are quite similar, not to mention consistently charming, heart-warming and utterly enjoyable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Gemütlich Late Romantic Symphonies and Piano Concerto 20 Jun. 2006
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
If it weren't a really bad pun, I'd say that the music of Pepping is peppy. Oops, I guess I just did say it. And it's mostly true, although a better adjective would be 'sunny.' There's something strangely endearing about the music of Ernst Pepping (1901-1981): although he was much younger than Mahler, and never knew him or studied with him, his music uses many of Mahler's gestures, at least in many passages, but it doesn't have the neurotic intensity of Mahler's in spite of the similar hyperchromaticism and dense polyphony. I find that refreshing. Make no mistake, I don't think his music has the greatness of Mahler's but it is neatly made, always interesting and displays mastery of melody, rhythm, harmony and counterpoint. There is, I suppose, a somewhat didactic quality to the music -- witness the classic forms, the use of fugal passages and the like -- but underneath one always detects a heart. Other influences: Nielsen's intentional gaucherie (those wide-interval slow tremolos, for instance), Bruckner's brass chorales.

To the degree that Pepping is known to the larger world, it is as a composer of sacred music -- although I have to confess I don't know any of it. Indeed this is the first music of Pepping's that I've ever heard. He was somewhat avant garde early on, and concentrated on sacred music afterwards, but for a period during and after the Second World War he concentrated on orchestral music. The three symphonies were written in a period of five years (1939, 1942, 1944) and are of a piece. The writer of the booklet notes attempts to make distinctions between the symphonies, but to my ears they are quite similar, not to mention consistently charming, heart-warming and utterly enjoyable. The First is probably the best-humored of the three, and the Second has more minor key passages with some tragic overtones, but frankly this is always leavened by perky, even nonchalant passages that chase away any melancholy or somber mood. The Third is subtitled 'Die Tageszeiten' ('The Times of Day') and its four movements are entitled 'Morning', 'Day', 'Evening' and 'Night.' These are not really narrative pieces, although there is some 'dawn-chorus' in the first movement, but rather a painting of a general mood. The booklet writer points out that Pepping used the main 'Morning' theme in inversion for 'Night.' Clever and well-done, but not particularly noticeable, at least at first hearing. The second movement is a broadly constructed and hugely satisfying passacaglia.

The Piano Concerto, written in 1950, is quite another thing entirely. In the usual three movements, it is much more interesting rhythmically, even using lots of jazz rhythms and occasional blue harmonies. There is notable lyrical writing for the solo trumpet (shades of Gershwin's concerto!) in the second movement. The finale certainly deserves the description 'peppy' and it is exhilarating, reminiscent of the French insouciance of Les Six. It is a display piece for the pianist, in the Romantic tradition but with modestly modern touches, and the performance by pianist Volker Banfield is all one could ask.

With the minor exception, in the second symphony, of some awkward ensemble, the Northwest German Radio Symphony, under Werner Andreas Albert, play with conviction and suavity. Andreas and cpo have brought us some extraordinary recordings in the last few years -- music of Benjamin Frankel and Hans Pfitzner come to mind -- and he and cpo are to be lauded for this.

I had never heard a note of Pepping's music before, but this two-CD set made me hungry for more of his orchestral or instrumental music.

Scott Morrison
Pleasant if not terribly important 28 July 2015
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Ernst Pepping (1901-1981) enjoyed a career as one of the most important composers of Protestant church music in the 20th century, and seems to have had quite an influence in his time, mostly through his choral and organ music. It is rarely heard these days, as far as I can tell, but cpo should be commended for this collection of his most significant orchestral works. Pepping’s three symphonies were composed between 1932 and 1944, which would be after he had set aside his earlier “uncompromising dissonance”. And indeed, the style is rather toothless, though it may have appealed to authorities at the time; the second symphony was even recorded by the Berlin Philharmonic under Furtwängler in 1943, a recording that has been intermittently available.

The style of these works actually remind one a bit of social realist works; not so much in actual sound world as in the obvious attempt to be listener-friendly and avoid confrontation. All the works here are basically neo-classical and diatonic with just the occasional dissonance thrown in to spice things up. Given the composer’s background in choral music it is hardly surprising that the music relies a lot on counterpoint, but the textures never clog; the downside is that there is little drama or tension, but nor is there much sense of grandeur and ambition – it is really all very nice, easily diverting music that chugs pleasantly along. But although there are few particularly memorable points of interest, there is exactly enough for the listener’s attention not to flag: these works are, indeed, enjoyable, clean, bright and variegated enough to sustain interest.

More precisely, the first and third symphonies are both carefree and happy works; the second is darker. That doesn’t mean that it contains more drama, however; just that the atmosphere is gloomier and occasionally somewhat oppressive. And to be perfectly honest, I prefer Pepping in a happier mood – though not by much, I would actually choose the third symphony as my favorite of the works here. The piano concerto from 1950 really is more of the same: cheerful (though somewhat introvert) and contrapuntal neo-classicism that plays around with its own material with just enough ingenuity to leave a positive overall impression.

No masterpieces, then, and little to challenge the listener, yet it is enjoyable enough to merit a listen if you like, say, Hindemith or Blacher. The performances by the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie under Werner Andreas Albert appear to do the music justice (I haven’t actually heard the Furtwängler recording of the second), and Volker Banfield provides as spirited a performance of the solo part in the concerto as it would be reasonable to hope for. In short, I would recommend this release (and look forward to cpo – or anyone else – exploring the music of, say, Hans Friedrich Micheelsen, Richard Mohaupt, Kurt Thomas or Johannes Driessler), but if you should miss it your life would probably not be very substantially poorer.
12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A gifted and sympathetic composer but victim of the 20th Century revolution in the arts 15 Jan. 2007
By Frank T. Manheim - Published on Amazon.com
I agree with Morrison'interesting review, that describes Pepping's music as having much in common with Mahler. Certainly this applies to Die Tageszeiten, with its kaleidoscopically metamorphosing romantic moods and orchestral colors. For more knowledgeable musicians, in tune with 20th Century music, this skilfully constructed music may offer stimulating extensions of Mahler as he may have sounded had he lived longer.

If I subject the symphonies to the "general music lover" test, I end up with the conclusion that Pepping's music suffers from the "futurist" constraint that blocks nearly all "serious music" composition in the 20th Century from a larger musical audience.

Yes, much of Pepping's composition has a luscious, intimate, late 19th Century romantic quality about it. I wouldn't class Pepping with neoromantic composers like Howard Hanson or Samuel Barber. But his music endlessly prepares the listener for satisfying melodic and harmonic resolutions that never come. The musical phrase is nearly there when it diverges off into a new phrase or mood. The promise it perpetually offers is never delivered to music lovers who are nonprofessionals and don't belong to the small circle of cognoscenti that occupy an elite status in today's society.

[...].

Whereas this kind of composition would seem to have nothing in common with musical styles like serial composition (Schoenberg), aleatoric or mathematically derived compositions (Cage), or aggressive use of dissonance that avoids tonal centers, in fact, it shares the most important characteristic for 20th Century composition accepted by the professional musical establishment: that it not generate active interest and engagement on the part of general musical audiences. This stigma on audience-oriented communication by music was expressed clearly by
Arnold Schoenberg in 1918: "...insofar as [the listener]...isn't indispensable for acoustic reasons (since music doesn't sound well in an empty hall), he's only a nuisance" [cited by Joseph Horowitz, in "Classical Music in America", 2005]. For a fine overview of this issue see "the Agony of Modern Music", by Henry Pleasants (first published 1955).
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