German composers seem duty-bound to write "Tragic Overtures" and "Tragic Symphonies", and so far only Brahms and Mahler (in their very different ways) have succeeded in living up to the term's potential. Ernst Boehe (1880-1938) comes awfully close as well, and I wouldn't be surprised if posterity ultimately vindicates his effort. Written in an idiom somewhere between Brahms and Strauss, Boehe for the most part sounds refreshingly free of the usual problems that beset conservative German, British, and American music from the turn of the last century: a fear of exploiting orchestral color to its fullest, a pedantic approach to form, and an emotionally inhibited expressive range. The overture opens with an impressivelyRead more brooding funeral march, moves to a sturdily symphonic allegro with a heroically questing second subject, and reaches an aptly pulverizing climax that leads to an excellently timed coda. At 18 minutes, the piece may be a bit long for its material, but it certainly delivers the goods.
Boehe composed four tone poems inspired by The Odyssey, and three of them (a fourth will appear in a succeeding volume) are included here: Departure and Shipwreck; The Island of Circe; and The Lament of Nausicaa. Scored for large orchestra, the music brings to mind Sibelius' Four Legends, though it dates from a decade later. Boehe's style lacks the primal quality that makes the Finnish master's music so distinctive (though he shares with Sibelius a fondness for idiomatic and evocative bass drum writing), but each of these three works reveals an abundance of characterful melodic and textural invention. The advertised Shipwreck has the necessary violence without becoming obvious, and Circe's charms, deliciously touched in on the high strings and harp, never sound tacky as Boehe gets beyond the obligatory sweetness to hint at darker undercurrents. In short, here's a composer who really knows what he's doing, and so for that matter do conductor Werner Andreas Albert (typically secure and authoritative), the enthusiastic and willing Rheinland-Pfalz orchestra, and CPO's engineers. A find.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Tragic Overture in d, Op. 10by Ernst Boehe Conductor:
Werner Andreas Albert
Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: Germany Length: 18 Minutes 38 Secs.
Powerful Symphonic PoemsJune 2, 2013By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"German composer Ernst Boehe was also a highly respected conductor in the early 1900's. The CD notes inform us that he in fact played an important role in developing the orchestra that became the ensemble featured on this CPO disk, the Rheinland Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra. Leading off the program of Boehe's orchestral works is a somber overture somewhat reminiscent of Brahms' compositon of the same name- Tragic Overture. This is followed by a set of three strikingly programmatic tone poems of enormous scope, and the listener may be tempted to sense a bit of Richard Strauss in the lush, sprawling musical canvases painted by Boehe. The 3 symphonic poems attempt to musically tell the story of the ancient Greek mythical hero Odysseus, and although each 'episode' has the ability to stand on its own as a concert piece, Boehe's clear intent was to link each section to create a vast symphonic panorama which tells a story. In this respect, CPO's extensive liner notes accompanying the CD are a valuable aid in framing the music in its proper 'literary' context. Werner Andreas Albert leads the Rheinland Pfalz Staatsphilharmonie in an exemplary performance of these works, and as usual, the sound quality of the recording is beyond reproach. An interesting (and possibly frustrating) side note is that there are actually 4 episodes to Boehe's Odysseus cycle, but the overall length of all of them together exceeds the technical capacity of a single compact disk. Thus, episode #4 awaits a further CPO disk. In the meantime, this one offers an intriguing chance to consider the merits of deliberately programmatic orchestral music and how it stands up against the 'purity' of the traditional symphony. Regardless of where one stands on this somewhat arcane argument, this excellent CPO disk should find favor with everyone. I can recommend this recording as an example of quality production from yet another rather obscure German composer. If you like sampling out-of-the-mainstream works, give this one a listen."Report Abuse