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Honegger: Symphonies 2 & 4 / Lopez-Cobos, Lausanne CO


Release Date: 09/24/2009 
Label:  Virgin Classics   Catalog #: 91486   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 3 Mins. 

Special Order: This CD requires additional production time and ships within 2-3 business days.  

This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is one of the best new recordings of Honegger's music to have appeared for a long time. The dark, inward-looking wartime Symphony No. 2 for trumpet and strings and the genial Deliciae basiliensis have been coupled together before by Ansermet and the Suisse Romande Orchestra (Decca) and by Charles Dutoit and the BRSO (Erato 0 2292-45247-2), both eminently satisfactory in their different ways though neither is a match for the classic Karajan account of the Second Symphony (DG), or the Deliciae basiliensis of Charles Munch, now happily back in circulation on a mid-price Erato issue (0 229245689-2), coupled with Dutilleux's Metaboles, a marvellous and exhilarating piece. Of course, if you want the most sumptuous and subtle of string Read more sonorities, Karajan's 1971 version of the Second remains (and is likely to remain) unrivaled, although the present Lausanne Chamber Orchestra disc is none the less a strong contender.

Munch made the premiere recording not long after the war and, as is so often the case, that brings the whole atmosphere of the period as well as the work alive. But his subsequent recordings— with the Boston Symphony in 1952 (recently reissued on RCA), the Czech Philharmonic in 1957 (not, as stated in the catalogue, 1967—the date of Milhaud coupling), in appalling sound but a performance of an extraordinary and anguished intensity, in 1964 with the Orchestre National, and finally in 1967 with the Orchestre de Paris— are all impressive in their different ways. There are, of course, many other accounts by Turovsky, Serge Baudo, Michel Plasson, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and others—not bad going for a composer who, according to one recent scribe, owes his place in the repertoire, "albeit at the fringes, to Karajan's stunning account of the 'clona nobis pacem' resolution of his Symphonie liturgique". It's amazing what gets published these days!

The Second Symphony is a work that wears well and suffice it to say that this newcomer can hold its head high in this company. Jess Lopez-Cobos is attentive to detail in matters of phrasing, balance and dynamic nuance. Perhaps the very opening of the slow movement, marked pianissimo, could have been softer, but generally speaking, this is a thoroughly idiomatic and sensitive reading. The same must also be said of the Pastorale d'etê and the Prèlude, arioso et fugue, a transcription dating from 1936 of a piano piece composed four years earlier.

Best of all, though, is the Fourth Symphony, composed for Paul Sacher and the Basle Chamber Orchestra. I dimly recall the first broadcast performance of this piece in the 1940s and rarely lose an opportunity of hearing any new recording of it. In his lightness of touch and responsiveness to colour and atmosphere, Lopez-Cobos scores over almost all his rivals, save perhaps Munch, though even here the excellence of the recorded sound and the more relaxed and witty account of the finale would prompt me to favour the newcomer. On a personal note, may I say that when I want to hear the Fourth Symphony for pleasure, which is relatively speaking often, I turn not to Munch or Dutoit but to an old tape I have from 1954 of the much underrated Albert Wolff conducting the Swedish Radio Orchestra. The quality is by now pretty execrable and suffers from drop-out and flutter, but the performance itself captures the transparent, luminous quality of the score as well as its geniality of character. In future, however, I suspect it will be to this fine new disc that! shall be looking when I want to hear this sunny and enchanting score. The recording has plenty of space round the instruments and a natural, realistic balance. Strongly recommended.

-- Gramophone [6/1992]
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 2 for Trumpet and Strings by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1990 
Venue:  University of Lausanne 
Length: 23 Minutes 40 Secs. 
2. Symphony no 4 "Deliciae basiliensis" by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1990 
Venue:  University of Lausanne 
Length: 24 Minutes 50 Secs. 
3. Pastorale d'été by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1990 
Venue:  University of Lausanne 
Length: 8 Minutes 13 Secs. 
4. Prelude, Arioso and Fughetta on B-A-C-H by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Jesús Lopez-Cobos
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Lausanne Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; France 
Date of Recording: 09/1990 
Venue:  University of Lausanne 
Length: 5 Minutes 41 Secs. 

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