Sunday, February 03, 2013

Sunday Classics chronicles: Remembering Eugen Jochum (2) -- Haydn and Bruckner, part 2


The First Day

The Fourth Day

Orchestral depiction of the lighting of the firmament

URIEL: In full splendor rises now
the sun, streaming:
a wondrous bridegroom,
a giant, proud and happy
to run his path.

With gentle motion and soft shimmer
the moon steals through the silent night.
Waldemar Kmentt (t), Uriel; Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Eugen Jochum, cond. Philips, recorded July 1966

by Ken

We began this tribute to that wonderful conductor Eugen Jochum (1902-1987) Friday night with samples of his Haydn and Bruckner. Now it wouldn't be that difficult to construct a polemical argument to show how much these composers have in common, but rather obviously they're worlds apart in temperament (Haydn's urbane classicism vs. Bruckner's cosmically and yet somehow chastely sprawling romanticism), scale, and outlook.

As I mentioned Friday night, most of the performances we're hearing in this week's and next's Jochum remembrance, during the Sunday Classics hiatus, come from the Sunday Classics archives, but both this week and next we're going to be hearing some that we haven't heard before. Today it's a recording that was included in the same large Berkshire Record Outlet order that yielded our earlier tribute to those three deeply musical conductorial "K"s, Rafael Kubelik, Josef Krips, and Rudolf Kempe: the CD edition of a performance I'd had on LP for ages, Jochum's Philips recording of Franz Joseph Haydn's great oratorio The Creation. The snippets we've heard above are tastes of the selections we're going to hear shortly from the First and Fourth Days of creation.

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As I noted Friday noted, the first thing that popped out on the symphonic side when I looked back at what we've heard Jochum conduct for Sunday Classics was the amount of Haydn and Bruckner. This certainly isn't hard to understand, though, when you consider his close affinity for both these very different composers.

What perhaps intrigued me more was that Jochum has been a sort of go-to guy for symphonic slow movements, which I think place such large demands on a conductor's re-creative imagination and ability to sustain momentum. And Friday night we reheard spectacular examples: his beautiful 1961 recording of the Largo of Haydn's Symphony No. 88, with its haloed hymn-like theme, and his 1935 recording and a 1974 live performance of the magnificent Adagio of Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, and we're going to rehear two more (quite different) Bruckner slow movements -- as well as two Bruckner symphonic finales.

[from the August 2012 post "When Haydn met London (and vice versa), neither was ever the same again"]

We're going to start with probably the best-known of Haydn's slow movements, the "surprise" Andante of his Surprise Symphony (No. 94), where we hear Jochum's unflappable, songful ease with just about every kind of music that can be thrown at him, because Haydn throws just about every kind of music at the performers. Then we rehear his sleek performance of the initially foreboding Andante più tosto allegretto of the Drum Roll Symphony (No. 103), which turns into a minor vs. major festival.

HAYDN: Symphony No. 94 in G (Surprise):
ii. Andante

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Eugen Jochm, cond. DG, recorded April 1972

HAYDN: Symphony No. 103 in E-flat (Drum Roll):
ii. Andante più tosto allegretto

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Eugen Jochum, cond. DG, recorded October 1971

In the original post I couldn't resist throwing in as a bonus the delightfully witty and graceful finale of Symphony No. 98, and I can't resist including it here.

HAYDN: Symphony No. 98 in B-flat:
iv. Finale: Presto

Wolfgang Meyer, harpsichord; Berlin Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. DG, recorded May 1962


Again, I wasn't entirely surprised to see that when we "did" the Bruckner Fourth Symphony, in from "Bruckner's Fourth Symphony -- four stories for four movements" (January 2010), Jochum was one of the conductors tapped for the wonderful slow movement, which isn't at all a "Bruckner adagio," but a wonderfully flowing lyrical effusion that can be awfully hard to savor properly while still maintaining forward movement. It's hardly surprising that Jochum manages it with ease.

I should note that Jochum's way with Bruckner, beautiful and compelling as it is, isn't the only way to approach the composer, or in fact my favorite -- I hear a darker vision, which became even darker over time. But when Jochum is selling his more orthodox vision, its so personally and persuasively presented that I'm happy to buy it.

(I also should note that my resort to live performances for the Bruckner Fourth and Seventh isn't meant to indicate dissatisfaction with Jochum's commercial recordings, at least the DG versions, in both cases a mono and a stereo one; I have more reservations about the later Bruckner symphony cycle for EMI, which had all the ingredients for greatness and somehow didn't work out that way. I just thought that perhaps Jochum's DG Bruckner recordings are so well-known that veteran listeners might enjoy the change of pace, and the chance to hear Jochum's visions executed with two other great orchestras: the Concertgebouw in No. 4 and the Vienna Philharmonic in No. 7.)

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E-flat:
ii. Andante quasi allegretto

Concertgebouw Orchestra (Amsterdam), Eugen Jochum, cond. Broadcast performance, Jan. 10, 1975

It isn't just slow movements we've heard from Jochum

In "Bruckner 7 -- a symphony built on its opening pair of musical twin towers" (July 2012) we actually heard Jochum perform both of those "twin towers," via a two-part video clip of the monumental opening movement and, as I noted earlier, the two performances, almost 40 years apart in time, of the Adagio -- all of which we heard again Friday night. But in the original post we also heard Jochum conduct the thundering Finale, and here it is again.

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E:
iv. Finale: Mehr schnell (Faster)

Vienna Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. Live performance, June 9, 1974

Now let's hear both an Adagio and a Finale

In the August 2011 post "Bruckner begins to establish his voice, hushed and clear" we traveled back in time to hear the first Bruckner symphony, the Second, that seems to me to speak with something like the composer's true voice. (If "Second Symphony" makes it sound as if he found it on his second try, he didn't. There are two earlier "study" symphonies before the official "Symphony No. 1," which have been designated as "0" and "00," which Bruckner pointedly chose not to include in the numbering of his symphonies, for reasons that seem to me abundantly clear. It's good to be able to hear them, just to understand the path the composer had to take to find his voice, but they surely don't belong in the Bruckner symphonic "canon," and I really have to wonder about the judgment of conductors who think otherwise.)

In the Bruckner Second post, we heard Jochum do both this early version of a Bruckner Adagio and the Finale.

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 2 in C minor (ed. Nowak):
ii. Adagio

iv. Finale: Ziemlich schnell (Quite fast)

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Eugen Jochum, cond. DG, recorded Dec. 29, 1966


We actually heard the opening of Haydn's great oratorio -- the fascinating orchestral "Representation of Chaos" and the angel Raphael's narration of "In the beginning" -- in the August 2012 "Haydn met London" post, for the obvious reason that it was Haydn's late-in-life first trips to London that inspired not just an even dozen symphonies (Nos. 93-104, composed the way he had composed so much music all his creative life, in sets of six) but the glorious oratorios The Creation and The Seasons, both set to German texts but planned for first performance, of course, in English.

One thing we didn't hear Jochum conduct in the "Haydn met London" post was The Creation. We heard Leonard Bernstein's second recording, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony, from the same performances that yielded his video recording, from which I would have loved to be able to enable you to see as well as hear Kurt Moll's truly great performance of Raphael's opening narration. And because I was apparently too lazy to go back to one of the better-quality English-language performances I have on LP, we heard this same Simon Rattle recording, which ranges from okay to not-so-okay.

Starting out with the First Day . . .

For our "First Day" excerpt we're going to go one number deeper than we did before, to include the angel Uriel's charming aria -- not so much for the aria as for the choral outburst that resolves unexpectedly into the expression of choral wonderment we heard atop this post: "Und eine neue Welt entspringt auf Gottes Wort" ("And a new world springs up at God's word").

HAYDN: The Creation: Part I, Nos. 1-3: The First Day
[Note: This text is the English version adapted by Nicholas Temperley used in the Rattle-EMI recording. I should probably have done it the other way 'round: offering a translation of the much more straightforwardly conversational German text. Oh well.]

No. 1, Orchestral introduction, "The Representation of Chaos"

No. 2, Recitative (with orchestra) and chorus
RAPHAEL: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
CHORUS: And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, "Let there be light; and there was light.
[Orchestral outburst (in C major) on the word "light."]
URIEL: And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

No. 3, Aria and chorus
URIEL: Now vanish before the holy beams
the gloomy dismal shades of dark:
The first of days appears.
Disorder yields to order fair the place.
Affrighted fell Hell's spirits black in throngs;
down they sink in the deep of abyss,
to endless night.
CHORUS: Despairing cursing rage
atttends their rapid fall.
A new-created world
springs up at God's command.

[in German] Gottlob Frick (bs), Raphael; Waldemar Kmentt (t), Uriel; Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Eugen Jochum, cond. Philips, recorded July 1966

[in English] David Thomas (bs), Raphael; Philip Langridge (t), Uriel; CBSO Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, cond. EMI, recorded Mar.-Apr. 1990

Moving on to the Fourth Day

Part I of The Creation ends on a special high note -- as if Haydn hadn't had enough to say musically about the creation of light on the First Day -- with the rising of the sun and the creation of the moon and the stars. We've already heard that amazing depiction of the rising of the sun and the moon, but we haven't yet heard the famous outburst of choral celebration that follows, "The heavens are telling the glory of God."

HAYDN: The Creation: Part I, Nos. 11-13: The Fourth Day
No. 11, Recitative (with continuo)
URIEL: And God said, let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day from the night, and to give light upon the earth; and let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days, and for years. He made the stars also.

No. 12, Orchestral depiction of the lighting of the firmament, with Uriel's recitative (with orchestra)

Orchestral depiction of the lighting of the firmament

URIEL: In splendor bright is rising now the sun
and darts his rays; an amorous, joyful, happy spouse,
a giant proud and glad to run his measured course,
with softer beams and milder light
steps on the silver moon through silent night.
The space immense of the azure sky
in numerous hosts of radiant orbs adorn.
And the sons of God announced the fourth day,
in song divine, proclaiming thus his power:

No. 13, Chorus, "Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes"
("The heavens are telling the glory of God")

CHORUS: The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The firmament displays the wonders of his works.
The day that is coming speaks it the day,
the night that is gone the following night.
CHORUS: The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The firmament displays the wonders of his works.
In all the lands resounds the word,
never unperceived, ever understood.
CHORUS: The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The firmament displays the wonders of his works.

[in German] Waldemar Kmentt (t), Uriel; Agnes Giebel (s), Gabriel; Gottlob Frick (bs), Raphael; continuo: Margarethe Scharitzer, harpsichord; Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Eugen Jochum, cond. Philips, recorded July 1966

[in English] Philip Langridge (t), Uriel; Arleen Augér (s), Gabriel; David Thomas (bs), Raphael; continuo: Harry Bickett, fortepiano; Ulrich Heinen, cello; CBSO Chorus, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Simon Rattle, cond. EMI, recorded Mar.-Apr. 1990


As I mentioned Friday night, it's going to be "Overtures Plus" for the third and fourth installments of our Jochum remembrance, sampling his achievements on the operatic front. (I pointed out that we'd heard a radio interview with Bruno Walter from 1958, the year in which he died, in which he talked about some differences between symphonic and operatic conducting, also pointing out that Maestro Walter -- like our four "J" and "K" conductors -- was a master of both.) Again the material will be mostly from the Sunday Classics archives but will also include some stuff we haven't heard.


Speaking of that 1958 Bruno Walter interview, Friday night's post went up at first without a link, which I did subsequently dig up and insert. For those who may have missed it, the interview was included in a July 2011 preview post, "Bruno Walter comes to America," and as I wrote at the time, "It's an interview where fairly pedestrian questions turn out to have fairly interesting answers."
Let me commend to you Walter's description of the nature of a conducting career, especially the peculiar conditions under which a would-be conductor learns his craft -- without benefit of his actual "instrument" until he actually gets a job! Beyond that I hope you'll be charmed (I was, and I'm not easily charmed) by his description of the personal and imaginative qualities required of a conductor.
That first preview post was followed by a second, "The 'American' Bruno Walter brings his humanity to Wagner," and then the main post, "Bruno Walter rehearses and plays Wagner's Siegfried Idyll."

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