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Ferdinand Herold: Overtures And Symphonies, Vol. 28

Herold / Orch Della Svizzera Italiana / Hauschild
Release Date: 05/29/2012 
Label:  Dynamic   Catalog #: 8028   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Wolf-Dieter Hauschild
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
Number of Discs: 1 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



HÉROLD Overtures: Zampa; Le Pré aux clercs. Symphonies: No. 1 in C; No. 2 in D Wolf-Dieter Hauschild, cond; O of Italian Switzerland DYNAMIC 8028 (54:25)


Reissued as part of its ongoing series of “Delizie Musicali” releases, the performances on this Dynamic CD were recorded in 1998 and appeared originally as CDS 282. In that guise, the disc was reviewed in very few words but recommended by John Bauman in Read more style="font-style:italic">Fanfare 24:2.


Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold (1791–1833) has maintained a tenuous hold in the repertoire thanks mainly to the overture to his opera Zampa , and to his ballet La Fille mal gardée . Of many composers largely forgotten today we can at least say that they were renowned and celebrated in their own time, but Hérold, despite having shown early promise, never really achieved widespread recognition outside of the early 19th-century French opera and ballet circle of composers—namely, François Adrien Boieldieu and Daniel Auber—with whom he sometimes collaborated.


Hérold’s 20-plus operas and half-dozen ballets met with variable success, more of them misses than hits. But his efforts weren’t limited to the theater. Besides the two symphonies on this disc, he also wrote four piano concertos and at least three string quartets, which I have on a REM CD performed by the Annesci Quartet.


Evidence of just how popular Hérold’s Zampa Overture once was is the fact that we played it, most likely in a simplified arrangement, in my high school orchestra, which now seems like it must have been only a year or two after the piece was written. But it’s rarely performed in concert these days, despite some 25 recordings. Reacquainting myself with the piece after not having heard it in quite some time, I can understand why, and it’s not the performance that’s at fault on this CD. The overture is as banal and cliché as the libretto on which it raises the curtain, which is to say it’s pretty typical of the fluffy cotton candy melodies and jangling gallops common to much early 19th-century French opera and ballet.


Hérold’s opera Le Pré aux clercs ( The Clerks’ Meadow ) may be the composer’s last work, for it seems he died five weeks after it was premiered by the Opéra-Comique on December 15, 1832. It’s said that his premature death was hastened by the lead soprano, one Alphonsine-Virginie-Marie Dubois, who held out for more money to appear in subsequent performances. To me, that suggests she had a rather low opinion of Hérold’s music and preferred not to have her name associated with it, but for a few extra francs she was willing to hold her nose while she sang.


The words “French composer” and “19th-century symphony” don’t usually go together in the same sentence and are often scoffed at when they do, at least until the many notable and significant exceptions are pointed out, beginning with Berlioz. The fact is that the club of well-known French composers who wrote symphonies was not really all that exclusive. Members included Bizet, Gounod, Gouvy, Farrenc, Lalo, Franck, Saint-Saëns, Boëllmann, Chausson, Magnard, and, no doubt, a number of others.


Hérold also made two contributions to the genre. The first, dated 1813, was apparently composed to satisfy a requirement that all recipients of the Prix de Rome, which Hérold had won the year before, had to write a symphony to demonstrate their progress. Accordingly, it’s an academically crafted work that follows all the standard rules of layout and form. Danilo Prefumo’s album note uses the words “traditional” and “unproblematic” to describe it. Hérold’s melodic outlines, regular phrases, and harmonic progressions are strongly reminiscent of Beethoven’s pre-“Eroica” orchestral works.


Hérold’s second symphony, according to Prefumo, followed a year later, in 1814, and exhibits “a weak penchant for lyricism.” Wikipedia’s entry on the composer, however, dates the second symphony to 1815 and places its composition in Naples, where the composer had moved to from Rome for health reasons. Whichever is correct, it doesn’t change one’s perception of the score, which, now in only three movements instead of four, shows no real advance over the earlier opus.


No one will find these works challenging to the ear or difficult to comprehend, and all should find them enjoyable, even if at times they can sound a bit frivolous and superficial. But this is mostly pleasant music, well performed by Wolf-Dieter Hauschild leading his Lugano-based orchestra, and in good recorded sound. My only reservation in recommending it is that today’s (mid-June 2012) price of $12.99 at ArkivMusic and $14.99 at Amazon seems rather high for a 14-year-old reissue. But then, if for some reason, you must absolutely have the original Dynamic CD (which I do, by the way), Amazon will be happy to sell it to you as an import for $99.99. If there are any takers, I’ll sell mine for half that and keep this “Delizie Musicali” rerelease in its place.


FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

1.
Zampa: Overture by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Wolf-Dieter Hauschild
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Paris, France 
2.
Le pré aux clercs: Overture by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Wolf-Dieter Hauschild
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832; Paris, France 
3.
Symphony no 1 in C major by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Wolf-Dieter Hauschild
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1813; Paris, France 
4.
Symphony no 2 in D major by Louis Ferdinand Herold
Conductor:  Wolf-Dieter Hauschild
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1814; Paris, France 

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