Notes and Editorial Reviews
(Concerto for Violin and Orchestra).
Christian Jost, cond; Viviane Hagner (vn); Essen P
CAPRICCIO 5118 (47:19) Live: Essen 6/16/2011
Christian Jost (b. 1963) is a German composer trained in Cologne and San Francisco. His music is consistently serious, in the long-standing manner of his countrymen: Brahms, Strauss, Hindemith. It clearly connects to—yet is never imitative of—German music of the late 20th century but
is less complex than Henze, more user friendly than Rihm. A closer parallel might be Peter Ruzicka, although Jost’s music is seldom as dark as Ruzicka’s. It has an appealing characteristic: It seems alive, almost animate, sometimes crawling or creeping, sometimes striding and shouting. Flutes and oboes chirp, basses and trombones growl, clarinets and horns slither.
is probably intended to mean profound ecstasy—although it might also be translated dead drunk. It is a single-movement concerto lasting 25 minutes. The violin part is thoroughly romantic, with a long-lined, yearning character, although one would never connect it to the 19th century. A German Bartók Second, perhaps, out of Sibelius? The accompaniment ranges from simple chord filling to an active, busy rumpus, the orchestration dense and heavy and yet sparkling with ringing percussion. This is easy-to-take modernism, even for the most conservative listeners, basically tonal but never announcing a particular key. Yet it is individual enough so that a listener deeply involved with 20th-century music is not put off. Could this be music that everybody likes?
When it comes to a symphony—that hallowed form—we pull up our critical bootstraps.
is subtitled “Five movements of a Trip to the Inner Self for large orchestra.” Although the five movements offer a variety of tempos, atmosphere, and color, the yearning, sighing character remains. The orchestration is elegant, alternately warm and mysterious, a colorful blend of sound rather than a display of individual instruments; rolling timpani hover in the distance, rush forth, and retreat again. There are moments that hint at movie music (
The Lord of the Rings
?), dripping with
atmosphere as if setting a scene, but Jost never crosses that line. After four movements of thoughtful wandering, the finale of
bursts into invigorating life—and the occasional dissonance—closing neatly with a single timpani whack. This would be great music to hear at a concert, but I am not convinced of its staying power. I sense no symphonic structure; it’s more a stream-of-consciousness affair. Well, it worked for the novel; why not for the symphony?
The performances seem ideal: Violinist Viviane Hagner soars and swoops with silky tone and dead-on intonation. Composer/conductor Jost has the orchestra well in hand, and it delivers as if it were the Berlin Philharmonic. The live recording is rich and deep, if perhaps a touch congested at Jost’s complex orchestral climaxes. The composer’s notes, in the form of an interview of obviously predigested questions, are—as so often happens—a mystery to me. Is it I? Is it the Germanic approach to art? Or could it be the translations? (Invariably
the translator’s native language, they should be
it.) In case I haven’t yet made it clear, I
this music (although I may be subconsciously embarrassed to admit it). It is a glorious wallow, and I recommend it to all, regardless of from whence you are coming.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
TiefenRausch by Christian Jost
Viviane Hagner (Violin)
Essen Philharmonic Orchestra
CocoonSymphonie by Christian Jost
Essen Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
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