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Resonanzen - Paul Sacher, Dirigent und Anreger / Holliger


Release Date: 07/25/2006 
Label:  Musiques Suisses   Catalog #: 6240   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Igor StravinskyFranz Joseph HaydnBohuslav MartinuFrank Martin,   ... 
Performer:  Heinrich SchiffMstislav RostropovichPhilippe HuttenlocherUlrike Sonntag,   ... 
Conductor:  Paul SacherHeinz Holliger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony OrchestraBavarian Radio ChorusSouthwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 4 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



RESONANZEN Paul Sacher, cond; 1-8 Heinz Holliger, cond; 9,10 Bavarian RSO & Ch; 1 SWR SO; 2-5,8 Basel CO 6,7 & Ch; 7 Basel SO; 9,10 Heinrich Schiff (vc); 4 Mstislav Read more Rostropvitch (vc); 6 Philippe Huttenlocher ( Orpheus ); 7 Ulrike Sonntag ( Eurydice ); 7 Heinz Holliger (ob); 8 Aurèle Nicolet (fl) 10 MUSIQUES SUISSES 6240 (4 CDs: 266:30 & )


STRAVINSKY Monumentum pro Gesualdo. 1 Abraham and Isaac. 1 A Sermon, a Narrative, and a Prayer. 1 Symphony in 3 Movements. 1 HAYDN Symphony No. 39. 2 MARTIN? Memorial for Lidice. 3 MARTIN Ballad for Cello and Small Orchestra. 4 BARTÓK Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. 5 BERIO The Return of the Dreams. 6 MILHAUD The Misfortunes of Orpheus. 7 MOZART Oboe Concerto in C, K 314. 8 FORTNER Aulody. 8 HOLLIGER 2 Liszt Transcriptions. 9 Turm Musik 10


This set is subtitled “Paul Sacher: Conductor and Advocate in Music.”Sacher (1906–1999) was an advocate of lesser-known music, old and new; in a more than 60-year career, he conducted only one Beethoven symphony (the First) but some 30 of Haydn (seldom the “Paris” or “London” ones). He was perhaps best known as friend and advocate of contemporary composers, his many commissions including Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta . In addition to his 61 years at the helm of the Basel Chamber Orchestra, which he founded, Sacher was a frequent guest of Southwest Radio in Baden-Baden and of Bavarian Radio in Munich after World War II. The three organizations shared artistic goals as close as their geographical proximity.


Igor Stravinsky was one of Sacher’s gods, along with Bartók and Hindemith, joined in later generations by Berio, Carter, Henze, Rihm, and Heinz Holliger. The first CD in this set consists of a 1965 Munich concert of Stravinsky’s works: three new compositions of the 1960s balanced by the 1945 Symphony in Three Movements . Sacher’s qualities of clarity, consistency, and respect for the score serve the late works admirably, as one would expect, but the performance of the symphony is astonishing. Incisive attacks, exacting balances, and an intensity that never lets up raise it above even the composer’s own two excellent recordings, and put to shame those by more glamorous ensembles such as the Chicago Symphony (Solti) and Berlin Philharmonic (Boulez). The opening tempo is a bit slower than Stravinsky’s, but it works well and enables many details to emerge. For once, the lyrical Andante, here carefully paced and balanced, does not seem out of place in this tough, gritty symphony. The finale in particular outdoes all other performances; its complex cross-rhythms are so cleanly realized as to make perfect sense for the first time. For a live performance, the playing is first-rate—there must have been plenty of rehearsal time; an early string entrance in the second measure of the Andante is barely noticeable. The 1965 stereo recording is a bit harsh and dry, but that suits the music. I have been searching half a century for a recording that does full justice to this 20th-century masterpiece—this is it. For the rest of you, I will go on with this review, but for me, that’s it: top of the Want List.


Haydn’s Symphony No. 39 in G Minor is the earliest performance here, from 1961. The performance is not a success by today’s standards, despite Sacher’s interest in early Haydn. Tempos and dynamics are exceedingly cautious, strings cover oboes and bassoon, and four horns make little effect. The dramatic Strum und Drang work just shuffles along. The 1964 performance of Martin?’s Memorial to Lidice is deeply felt, but that powerful piece benefits enormously from modern engineering, especially an Ondine SACD with Christoph Eschenbach leading the Philadelphia Orchestra (two reviews in Fanfare 29:4). Frank Martin’s Ballade is an 18-minute work in four connected sections that he chose not to call a concerto; shafts of blazing light momentarily dissipate the gloom. Schiff’s playing is gorgeous. Sacher’s reading of Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta is precise, intense, and atmospheric; percussion instruments are ideal, but the string body is not potent enough. The 1985 stereo recording is too reverberant to locate the instruments precisely. There is an extraordinarily lovely Linn SACD of the MUSPAC led by Mackerras (28:3), but strings are underpowered there, too. Stick with the big boys: Reiner or Solti in Chicago.


CD 3 opens with the world premiere of Berio’s 1976 Ritorno degli Snovidenia for cello and small orchestra, written for Sacher and Rostropovich (the 1967 in the booklet is a typo). The composer has written: “a rotating figure . . . introduces other figures as echoes, bit by bit, which sometimes hide themselves behind the web of their own derivations.” All of which leads to an intriguing 20-minute work of much beauty. The Milhaud opera was Sacher’s final concert. Les malheurs d’Orphée is filled with charming, bubbling music; it seems everyone is happy except Orpheus and Eurydice. Many other singers contribute, but the two leads and the chorus carry the work. As always, Milhaud’s orchestra is brightly lit with woodwinds and brass. A complete French libretto is included, but there are no translations.


CD 4 is devoted to Holliger, Sacher’s friend and associate, as oboist, composer, and conductor. The Mozart Concerto is not a success, despite some fabulous solo-playing. A harsh, tinny recording makes violins shriek and does Holliger’s instrument no favors. He plays cadenzas—his own, no doubt—that few if any other oboists could manage, but they are a bit florid for Mozart. Still, one cannot but be awed by such supreme virtuosity. Fortner’s Aulody is a 20-minute work in two parts for solo oboe, brass, and percussion. The first movement includes 12-tone elements; brass scream and percussion contribute loud explosions. Part II is a bit more lyrical. Coming from the same concert as the Mozart Concerto, the recording suffers from equally tinny sound. Yet the whole comes across as thoroughly musical, partially thanks to Holliger’s amazing playing. He takes over as both composer and conductor for the final works in this set. His transcriptions for large orchestra of two enigmatic late Liszt pieces are fascinating. “Nuages gris” is deep and mysterious, moving slowly through glowing sonorities at the bottom of the orchestral palette (think Rachmaninoff’s Isle of the Dead , stripped of sentimentality) until a solo violin climbs out of the murk at the coda. “Unstern!” is equally dark and Rachmaninoffian—one can even detect the Dies irae hiding in the background. Tubas and trombones get a workout as strings sigh from one pitch to another. Stunning orchestrations both, conjuring up the blackest moments of Schreker operas. Holliger’s own Turm-Musik for flute, small orchestra, and tape (1984) is a 25-minute work of enormous musical and literary complexity, which requires an entire monograph for itself. It certainly boasts avant-garde credentials, yet it is pleasing at first listen. It holds my attention throughout, but only slowly reveals its secrets over several hearings. Let’s leave it at that. Flutist Nicolet achieves some beautiful sounds and some startling ones. This 1987 Basel Symphony Orchestra concert was given before a live audience, which can be detected but is seldom intrusive; the recorded sound is gorgeous.


All four discs claim to be stereo, but there is no audible sign of it in the earliest (1961) recording, the Haydn Symphony. The Stravinsky texts— Abraham and Isaac in Hebrew, A Sermon, a Narrative, and a Prayer in English—are also translated into French, German, and (for the former) English. Extensive three-language program notes include scholarly footnotes, which not only identify the source of individual quotations but offer background essays and discussions. The booklet packs all this, plus the Milhaud libretto, into 140 well-printed pages of clean 12-point type on heavy glossy stock.


If you care about Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements , this set is a must, and Holliger’s music has been a revelation to me. These discs are available directly from ArkivMusic.com or Qualiton Imports, at www.qualiton.com. At Qualiton, a search for Sacher also currently turns up several items, including an Ars Musici three-CD set, “Paul Sacher und die neue Musik,” which has no duplication of repertoire.


FANFARE: James H. North
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Works on This Recording

1.
Monumentum pro Gesualdo di Venosa ad CD annum by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 
2.
Abraham and Isaac by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1963; USA 
3.
A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960-1961; USA 
4.
Symphony in Three Movements by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942-1945; USA 
5.
Symphony no 39 in G minor, H 1 no 39 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: by 1770; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
6.
Memorial to Lidice by Bohuslav Martinu
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; Czech Republic 
7.
Ballade for Cello and Orchestra by Frank Martin
Performer:  Heinrich Schiff (Cello)
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; Switzerland 
8.
Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, Sz 106 by Béla Bartók
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; Budapest, Hungary 
9.
Il ritorno degli Snovidenia for Cello and 30 Instruments by Luciano Berio
Performer:  Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello)
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976-1977 
10.
Les malheurs d'Orphée, Op. 85 by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Philippe Huttenlocher (Bass), Ulrike Sonntag (Soprano)
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; France 
11.
Concerto for Oboe in C major, K 314 (285d) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Heinz Holliger (Oboe)
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1778; Mannheim, Germany 
12.
Aulodie by Wolfgang Fortner
Performer:  Heinz Holliger (Oboe)
Conductor:  Paul Sacher
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
13.
Nuages gris for Piano, S 199 by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Heinz Holliger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Rome, Italy 
Notes: Arranger: Heinz Holliger. 
14.
Unstern: sinistre, disastro for Piano, S 208 by Franz Liszt
Conductor:  Heinz Holliger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Chamber Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: after 1880; Rome, Italy 
Notes: Arranger: Heinz Holliger. 
15.
Turm-Musik by Heinz Holliger
Performer:  Aurèle Nicolet (Flute)
Conductor:  Heinz Holliger
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Basel Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1984 

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