Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Haim-Ben, Paul. (1897-1984) Orchestral Works.

From my collection.
Bought in September 2014.
First listen: 29-9-2014.
Second listen: 15-2-2017.
Label: CPO.
Recording dates: June 2008.
Recording venue: Grosser Sendesaal, NDR, Hannover, Germany.
Recording engineer: Helge Martensen.
Running time: 57:37.
Classical relevance for me: Well worth acquiring.

Works performed:

Symphony No. 1.
Fanfare to Israel.
Symphonic Metamorphoses on a Bach Chorale, "Wer nun den lieben Gott lasst walten".

Performed by:

NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Israel Yinon.

I saw the name pop up here and there, but never actually followed it up, by listening to the music. When I was browsing through a list of cheap cd's this one popped up, so I thought lets give it a chance. The samples were promising, and I am glad that the investment paid off. And I mean in a musical sense, for the physical cd was already very cheap. Its not so easy after a first hearing to define the music, in other words, its difficult to describe. The booklet refers to Mahler, but frankly apart from some technical similarities there is hardly anything that makes me turn in that direction. The work was premiered in 1941, at the beginning of WWII, with atrocities already happening, so of course you can hear the anxiety in the music about this. That said, the music is tonal, with some modernity in the way of writing, and my impression is that it represents, at least for me, a musical prayer, with long lines of deep contemplation, but also some horrifying moments, often hammered out by timpani, in quite a forceful way, interlaced with moments of deep serenity, To my ears this is a Romantic work, with a profound message. The tonal palette is one that comes close to some other composers I know, yet it is also markedly different. You get quickly aware of this by the way he connects the subject matter together, and moulding it into a melodic outburst that is truly unique. I guess in the following replays I will have more to say about this work.

I like the way in which the climax builds up in Fanfare to Israel, very cleverly done. The Symphonic Metamorphosen is a work that is carefully positioned, considering the base material. He really handles the Chorale with respect, and yet makes it his own, and turns it into a wonderfully conceived work. I am certainly going further in my exploration of this composer. The performance is very good, as expected with such a fine conductor. The recording is very good and detailed with an excellent front to back image, but it needed a lot of volume, to get good results. And I mean a lot!

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