WERNER JOSTEN (1885-1963)
Jungle (1928) [15.05]
Concerto Sacro I and II (1925) [31.50]
Canzona Seria - A Hamlet Monologue (1957) [9.29]
Symphony (1936) [15.30]
David Del Tredici (piano)
American SO/Leopold Stokowski
Polish National RSO/William
Though their discs are well packaged, designed and documented CRI continue
to work away in obscurity so far as the majority of reviewers are concerned.
CRI's catalogue has the latest recordings rubbing shoulders with the results
of sessions from the 1950s. How often do you see their CDs in record shops
- even in specialist outlets or large stores like Tower or HMV? Hardly at
Jungle crosses the sort of determined rhythmic propulsion we associate
with Vaughan Williams (Piano Concerto and Symphony No 4) with the explosive
impressionism of Ravel and the motoric power of Honegger. The rain forest
grumbles, raves, whistles, chitters, roars (there are several lion roars!)
and whispers. This is music very close to Villa-Lobos in his Uirapuru
and Amazon cycle. Towards the close (9.10) it nods in the direction
of Sibelius's En Saga but gathers itself for some explosively feral
rhythmic display. The marine cut and thrust of Louis Aubert's Tombeau
de Chateaubriand also ruffles this simultaneously inviting and threatening
forest portrait. The work was inspired by Henri Rousseau's (Le Douanier)
painting 'Forêt Exotique'. The lion roar was created by drawing a rosined
cord through a drumhead. In addition Josten added African drums to the already
magniloquent orchestral specification. I wonder if Bernard Herrmann knew
the piece (q.v. his later film score for 'White Witch Doctor') and speaking
of the film world the sighs and rhythmic carpet at and around 8.40 sound
remarkably like a source of inspiration for Waxman's music for 'The Bride
of Frankenstein'. Jungle was premiered by the Boston SO conducted
by Koussevitsky on 25 October 1929. The stereo spread is very well contrived
and every strand scores a hit.
The Concerto Sacro I and II are for solo piano (played by
Alice-fixated composer, David Del Tredici) and a big string ensemble. The
two works are spiritual, intense and lyrically passionate. What to expect:
think of Finzi's string writing in Dies Natalis but with a touch (just
a touch) of Mantovani's cascading strings and add reverberation as well as
a dash of passion from Barber's Adagio, Martinu's Double Concerto
and Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings. The solo piano strides through the
two works as it does in Finzi's Eclogue amid the harmonic crunch of
a major string ensemble playing its heart out. Only in the Sepulchre and
Resurrection section of the second concerto does an element of watery
atonalism sidle into the proceedings.
The Canzona Seria is a work of staccato rather than legato lyricism
- a soul-mate to Nielsen's Wind Quintet and Barber's Summer Music.
The Symphony is in two 'slabs'. The first (5 mins) has filled its tank with
the ballistic matter from Jungle and combines this with a Roy
Harris-inflected epic spirit and a touch of Tippett's early tunefulness.
The second movement is sombre though, towards the end ,the music rises to
a vaulting and rambunctious 'wide open spaces' confidence.
The pauses between tracks are far too short.
The notes and design of the leaflet and insert are exemplary.
A highly recommended disc.
If you are already inclined to the music of Martinu and Villa-Lobos, but
with a ladleful of string band luxuriance, you will want this.
In case of difficulty this can be ordered direct from:-
Composers Recordings, Inc. (CRI)
73 Spring Street Suite 506
New York, NY 10012-5800 USA
(212) 941-9673 fax (212) 941-9704