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Honegger: Symphonies 1-5, Pacific 231 / Plasson, Toulouse Capitole Orchestra


Release Date: 06/01/2004 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 85516   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 18 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Honegger never has enjoyed in this country the reputation to which his finest works entitle him, although this is the second complete recording of his symphonies lately to appear here. (The other was by Serge Baudo and the Czech Philharmonic on Supraphon 110 1741-3, 9/79.) From Le roi David (1921) onwards, he was always attracted to large canvasses, yet his symphonies, No. 1 aside, were all composed between 1940 and 1950. They have a clarity and logic that reminds us, however different the style, of Frank Martin; there is a strong leaning to contrapuntal textures, and on occasion to bi-tonality, as at the beginning of Symphony No. 5. This concentrated and always serious music is sometimes highly dissonant yet it has elevation, even Read more nobility, and sometimes the kind of grandeur found in the composer's Antigone.

His first symphony, like his last, was a Koussevitzky commission, dating from 1930, and has a generally firm, dark-toned aspect, though after the sombre and moving Adagio the finale looks forward in its high spirits to No. 4. In their rhythmic configuration some of the first movement's phrases show the influence of jazz, although this is fully assimilated into Honegger's style (as it is in the finale of his Clarinet Sonatina). Symphony No. 2 must be the most compelling musical work to have come out of occupied France, and is one of the best things this composer ever did. It is tense, anguished, full of conflict, but marked also by the strongest melodic and rhythmic impulses. The scoring for strings alone emphasizes its invigorating austerity, but in the finale, to suggest a feeling of hope, a trumpet is added. Unfortunately, its pArt is marked ad libitum, and Michel Plasson, a committed advocate of this music, omits it. Something substantial is lost thereby, as comparison with other recordings will show.

Written in the post-war aftermath, Symphony No. 3 is, again, dark-toned, packed with jagged energy, imaginatively dramatic. In contrast with Ernest Ansermet and the Suisse Romande Orchestra (Decca SXL6394, 9/69), Plasson, or his recording engineer, Serge Remy, gives the wind instruments considerably more emphasis in the first movement, and his interpretation is more aggressive. It is Ansermet, though, who focuses best the spectral yet grimly pacing start to the finale. Symphony No. 4 is utterly different, and easily the most relaxed of these works. For chamber orchestra, it is light, delicate, beautifully scored, and the contrapuntal sense evident in the central movement of No. 3 here comes to the fore. One is reminded of Honegger's Concerto do Camera for flute, cor anglais and strings. Plasson again makes a more positive impression in the first two movements, perhaps unduly so at some points, for the gamelan-evoking glockenspiel and piano unisons sound more poetic from Ansermet.

Symphony No. 5 is explosively energetic, and Plasson gives a typically vital interpretation. So he does also of the inevitable filler, Pacific 231, but the purely exterior nature of this piece is shown in an unflattering light when juxtaposed with the symphonies. It benefits, however, like each work here, from an excellent recording whose well spread stereo is especially impressive. Normally I tend to be against integral sets, but, despite that trumpet missing from No. 2, it has been a thoroughly rewarding experience to renew my acquaintance with Honegger's symphonies in these performances.

-- Gramophone [2/1981]
reviewing these performances on LP
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 1 by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1930; France 
2. Symphony no 2 for Trumpet and Strings by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1941; France 
3. Symphony no 3 "Liturgique" by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945-1946; France 
4. Symphony no 4 "Deliciae basiliensis" by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; France 
5. Symphony no 5 "Di tre re" by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; France 
6. Mouvement symphoniques (3): no 1, Pacific 231 by Arthur Honegger
Conductor:  Michel Plasson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in C H75 (1992 Digital Remaster): I. Allegro marcato
Symphony No. 1 in C H75 (1992 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio
Symphony No. 1 in C H75 (1992 Digital Remaster): III. Presto
Symphony No. 2 in D H153 (1992 Digital Remaster): I. Molto moderato - Allegro
Symphony No. 2 in D H153 (1992 Digital Remaster): II. Adagio mesto
Symphony No. 2 in D H153 (1992 Digital Remaster): III. Vivace non troppo - Presto
Symphony No. 3, 'Liturgique' H186 (1992 Digital Remaster): I. Dies irae (Allegro marcato)
Symphony No. 3, 'Liturgique' H186 (1992 Digital Remaster): II. De profundis clamavi (Adagio)
Symphony No. 3, 'Liturgique' H186 (1992 Digital Remaster): III. Dona nobis pacem (Andante - Adagio)
Symphonie No.4 'Deliciae Basiliensis' (1992 Digital Remaster): Lento e misterioso - Allegro
Symphonie No.4 'Deliciae Basiliensis' (1992 Digital Remaster): Larghetto
Symphonie No.4 'Deliciae Basiliensis' (1992 Digital Remaster): Allegro
Symphonie No.5 'Di Tre Re' (1992 Digital Remaster): I - Grave
Symphonie No.5 'Di Tre Re' (1992 Digital Remaster): II - Allegretto - Adagio
Symphonie No.5 'Di Tre Re' (1992 Digital Remaster): III - Allegro marcato
3 Symphonic Movements H53, H67, H83 (1992 Digital Remaster): Pacific 231

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