Willem van Otterloo, conductor

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Lance
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Willem van Otterloo, conductor

Post by Lance » Sun May 27, 2007 12:58 am

Lately, I've been listening to some recordings with a conductor who seems to have been nearly forgotten, Willem van Otterloo (1907-1978). The recordings I've been listening to mostly come from the fourth set of broadcasts from the Netherlands Radio [RCO 06004, 14 CDs, many other conductors within] with the Concertgebouw Orchestra-Amsterdam. Among the treasures is the Brahms Violin Concerto with Itzhak Perlman and Beethoven's Symphony No. 4, Op. 60, both of which were recorded on March 19, 1972. I was amazed at the richness of this always superb orchestra, but especially so under Otterloo's hands.

A look at the my CD discography where this conductor is included shows him more as a collaborative conductor with such artists as Clara Haskil, Hermann Krebbers, Zoltan Szekely, Ginette Neveu, and Stefan Askenase. Oddly, on LP I didn't track him as I should have but I'm certain I have many LPs with van Otterloo conducting, probably on the American Epic label. His work as a conductor without soloists appears to be relatively small on recordings which makes his recording of Beethoven's fourth symphony even more valuable.

Van Otterloo started out in the field of medicine and changed to cello and composition at the Amsterdam Conservatory. As a composer, he took a prize from the Concertgebouw for a piece entitled Suite No. 3, which he conducted with that orchestra in 1932. He held a number of conducting posts, the longest with the Resident Orchestra at The Hague from 1949 to 1973. He seemed to show more than a casual interest in contemporary music, but certainly recorded more traditional material. He was married three times, the last in 1970 in Australia and had five children from his previous two marriages. He passed away in 1978 the result of a vehicular accident.

Are others familiar with the art of Willem van Otterloo? Does anyone know if he left a substantial body of recordings as a conductor, but not including those with soloists?
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Post by pizza » Sun May 27, 2007 1:23 am

Van Otterloo conducted the best Berlioz "Symphonie Fantastique" I ever heard. Epic BC 1068 Stereorama/Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

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Post by John F » Sun May 27, 2007 3:52 am

Willem van Otterloo was the music director of the Hague Residentie Orchestra, whose nom de disque on Epic Records was the Hague Philharmonic, from 1949 to 1972. He made a lot of recordings for Philips when they were more involved with Dutch musicians and music than they are now; not just concertos but symphonies and orchestral works in the standard repertoire and some Dutch contemporary music. Beginning in 1967 he also conducted regularly in Australia, though I don't believe he made any recordings there.

This info is from John L. Holmes's "Conductors on Record" (Gollancz & Greenwood Press, 1982), a very useful if not exactly authoritative book which is somewhat outdated and now out of print. Under each conductor it lists the works he recorded by orchestra and record label. Amazon doesn't even list it, but does list a similar title, Holmes's "Conductors: A Record Collectors Guide," which may be an updated version, and which it doesn't have in stock. I Googled both titles and found the earlier book, but not the later one, for sale at various prices on Best Book Buys:

http://www.bestwebbuys.com/Conductors_o ... c=b-search
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Post by david johnson » Sun May 27, 2007 4:19 am

i recall his name on some vox records, i think.

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Post by MaestroDJS » Sun May 27, 2007 8:02 am

Willem van Otterloo made numerous recordings with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s. Unfortunately these were not widely distributed outside of Australia in the LP era, and only a few of his Sydney recordings have been transferred to CD. He had embarked on an impressive series of Beethoven symphonies which was incomplete at his death.
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Post by Wallingford » Sun May 27, 2007 2:53 pm

Well, STRICTLY SOLO (with the Residentie--when's Jarvi gonna do some discs with them??), van Otterloo did Beethoven's Eighth & the complete Creatures of Prometheus, Schubert's "Unfinished," & the St-Saens "Organ" Symphony (Asma on organ)--most of which I've got the American LPs of (the St-Saens, interestingly, licensed to Vox, and carried as well on the late Record Club Of America's Yorkshire label).

The "Organ" Sym. here's a good deal more sluggish than I like, tempo-wise. Otterloo was a very intelligent interpreter, though.
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Post by CharmNewton » Sun May 27, 2007 6:23 pm

I have a fine recording of the Mahler 4th with him from Hague on an Epic LP from the mid 1950s. This one may have been re-issued on CD.

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Post by slofstra » Sun May 27, 2007 10:12 pm

John F wrote:Willem van Otterloo was the music director of the Hague Residentie Orchestra, whose nom de disque on Epic Records was the Hague Philharmonic, from 1949 to 1972. He made a lot of recordings for Philips when they were more involved with Dutch musicians and music than they are now; not just concertos but symphonies and orchestral works in the standard repertoire and some Dutch contemporary music. Beginning in 1967 he also conducted regularly in Australia, though I don't believe he made any recordings there.

This info is from John L. Holmes's "Conductors on Record" (Gollancz & Greenwood Press, 1982), a very useful if not exactly authoritative book which is somewhat outdated and now out of print. Under each conductor it lists the works he recorded by orchestra and record label. Amazon doesn't even list it, but does list a similar title, Holmes's "Conductors: A Record Collectors Guide," which may be an updated version, and which it doesn't have in stock. I Googled both titles and found the earlier book, but not the later one, for sale at various prices on Best Book Buys:

http://www.bestwebbuys.com/Conductors_o ... c=b-search

The latter would appear to be a different book, only about 336 pp compared to 734 pp for the older work. He also wrote two other books, 'Conductors on Composers' and 'Composers on Composers'. But I didn't know that; I found the information on http://www.abebooks.com, as far as I know, the best source on the web for rare and out of print books. This site networks together the inventories of used booksellers all over the globe - western countries anyway. Give it a try, if you haven't used the site before.

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Post by Lance » Mon May 28, 2007 12:34 am

There is one "twofer" set on Philips [442.496] called "The Best of César Franck" that contains symphonic works conducted by Willem van Otterloo:
  • Les Eolides, symphonic poem
  • Symphony in D Minor
Both were recorded in stereo in January of 1964 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra-Amsterdam. The two discs fills out with the Violin Sonata in A Major with Grumiaux, violin and Hajdu, pianist, some organ pieces with Pierre Cochereau, organist, José Carreras singing "Panis Angelicus," the Symphonic Variations with Marie-Françoise Bucquet, pianist and the Monte-Carlo Orchestra conducted by Paul Capolongo. This is the kind of CD collectors might pass by unless you look it over carefully. [/color]
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John F
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Post by John F » Mon May 28, 2007 6:08 am

slofstra wrote:The latter would appear to be a different book, only about 336 pp compared to 734 pp for the older work.
Darned if you aren't right--I missed that. Maybe the later book is limited to records available when it was published in 1988.

Thanks for the tip about AbeBooks, which I also didn't know.
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CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Mon May 28, 2007 9:59 am

For those interested in historical recordings, three copies of the Clough and Cuming World's Enclopedia of Recorded Music (W.E.R.M.) are listed in the marketplace section and pretty fairly priced in a couple of instances.

This book lists virtually all classical recordings made between 1925 and 1855 or so and the third supplement is really helpful in dealing with the explosion of early LPs.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/ ... 935&sr=1-1

John

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Post by val » Thu May 31, 2007 3:40 am

Van Otterloo was a good conductor. I remember his version of Bruckner's 4th Symphony and Schumann's piano concerto with Clara Haskil.

But, among dutch conductors of his generation, he always seemed a little pale when compared to Eduard van Beinum or Paul van Kempen.

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Post by Gregg » Thu May 31, 2007 10:45 am

Just to spread gossip.... I believe that he was infamous for his temper, which I am told, kept him from being considered for the Concertgebouw after van Beinum's death.


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Post by pizza » Thu May 31, 2007 11:03 am

According to the introductory note to this interesting looking 13 CD set of his recordings on the Challenge Classics label, "Willem van Otterloo was by no means a dictatorial conductor . . . ."

http://www.challenge.nl/main.php?ident=72142

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Post by Gregg » Thu May 31, 2007 11:26 am

...still his era has passed, along with the shade of Toscanini.....

Or so it might be said. And in his place we have Haitink. I'll offer no editorializing, having in my youth been a Haitink fan. He was my first exposure to Bruckner, and several other composers. I rarely listen to his recordings now, except for a LSO CD.


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Post by Wallingford » Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:08 am

It nearly slipped my mind: Otterloo did record a bit more Grieg than the average conductor did. With the Hague he did the Peer Gynt Suites, the 2 Elegiac Melodies, the "Homage March" from Sigurd Jorsalfar, the Norwegian Dances, and the Piano Concerto with Abbey Simon.

The non-concerto performances sound like quickies, with some surprisingly ragged playing (this, from a group of supervirtuosos). The March & Dances are coupled with Jarnefelt's Praeludium, Svendsen's Romance & Sibelius' Valse Triste & Finlandia (on a Mercury Wing LP reissue entitle "Scandinavian Twilight Concert," on SRW-18051--fake stereo, unfortunately).

INCIDENTALLY: On the classicalconducting.com website, there's a live concert of Otterloo guest-conducting the American Symphony Orchestra.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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