Chausson, Symphony in B-flat, Anybody?

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slofstra
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Chausson, Symphony in B-flat, Anybody?

Post by slofstra » Fri May 11, 2007 2:41 pm

How is this piece regarded? The CBC played one movement the other day, and it sounded like Wagner but better. Is there a definitive account?

I had never heard of Chausson by the way (which probably doesn't mean much). How is he regarded?

John F
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Post by John F » Sat May 12, 2007 8:46 am

Chausson was indeed one of the French Wagnerians, though not an imitator of Wagner's style. Some of his music is quite popular, such as the Poème for violin and orchestra, and the symphony has been recorded fairly often, though I haven't heard it yet in live concert.

Don't know most of the recent recordings of the symphony, but Dutoit's sounded good to me when I heard it, and the CD also includes some other Chausson such as the Poème.

An even better choice, at least for repertoire, is the Naxos CD conducted by Kaltenbach, which includes the symphony, the Poème, and the tone poem "Viviane," a gorgeous short piece about the enchanting mistress of the wizard Merlin. Don't know anything about the performances, but at Naxos's low price I don't suppose you can lose.
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Lance
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Post by Lance » Sat May 12, 2007 10:27 am

Chausson = 1855-1899 (Symphony in B-flat: 1890)
Franck = 1822-1890 (Symphony in d: 1888)
D'Indy = 1851-1931 (Symphony on a French Mountain Air: 1887)
Wagner = 1813-1883


In my mind, I always pair the symphonies of Chausson and Franck as it seems a natural comparison considering the fact that they were written at almost the same time. While the Franck has secured a more permanent place in the orchestral repertoire, the Chausson has not fared as well, though in the past, I think the work was performed live more frequently than we hear it today.

There is no question that Richard Wagner was one strong influence in the lives of other composers by the time he died. The Chausson shows this influence much more heavily, though the influence in Franck's symphony is also apparent, more in the first movement than elsewhere in the work. D'Indy's French Mountain Symphony, as beautiful as it is, isn't of the length and orchestral scope of those by Chausson and Franck, nor is it imbued with Wagnerian influences.

Chausson was a mere 35 years old when he penned his symphony, and had only about nine more years to live, owing his death to a bicycle accident at age 45. Franck had only two more years of life after finishing his symphony at age 66, and D'Indy was 36 when he completed his Mountain Air Symphony but lived well into the new age of music. The young mental wheels of Chausson must have been in high gear to produce such a huge orchestral work and one can only wonder what he might have produced had he lived the life span of a César Franck.

The Chausson is an interesting work to hear "on occasion," at least for yours truly, and I could listen to the Franck symphony a bit more frequently, while the D'Indy is always a joy to hear because of the interesting piano obbligato part, and it is much more brief in length thus able to hold the average concert-goers attention better.

Thank heavens for recordings though! I grew up with the Chausson as performed by one of my favorite conductirs, Dimitri Mitropoulos, who recorded it with the Minneapolis Symphony (recorded on 78-rpm discs, ultimately transferred to LP). Old mono sound, but it is, nevertheless, a solid performance that gives you everything the symphony has to offer, conducted by a genius. Once appearing on Columbia Records, the performance has been available on Lys (defunct) and is on Nickson Records now.

Another performance of the Chausson I would not want to be without either: Charles Munch conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra on an RCA CD [60683] that may be deleted or offered, perhaps, in another RCA compilation.

Other than Mitropoulos, the French conductors seem to be the ones who bring the Chausson to life. A superb recording was made by Pierre Monteux (an absolute master in his work) in 1950 with the San Francisco Symphony once available on CD in the big Monteux RCA box set [single CD 61899]. I never got the Ansermet recording on Decca/London, but I've heard it and it is also first rate. Michele Plasson recorded it for EMI in the 1970s, and even the great Frederick Stock (not French!) recorded it with the Chicago Symphony, once available on an RCA Bluebird LP [LBC-1056]. Someone mentioned Charles Dutoit. I don't have his recording of the Chausson, but that would be high on my list of newer recorded versions simply based on what I've heard him do in the past, and especially in French repertoire.

For me, Chausson's magnum opus is his Concerto in D for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Op. 21, apparently composed around the same time as the symphony, or at least it was published around the same time.

What a nice subject to be thinking about here!
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pizza
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Post by pizza » Sat May 12, 2007 1:35 pm

There is a fine modern recording on Dorian:

Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899) - Symphony in B flat Op.20 (1890); Jacques IBERT (1890-1962) Escales (1922); Divertissement (1930); Dallas Symphony Orchestra/Eduardo Mata; Recorded Dallas, January 1993; DORIAN DOR-90181 [61:50]

I bought it mainly for the Ibert as I have Munch's recording of the symphony, but I was pleasantly surprised by Mata's performance which is excellent and the sound is superb.

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Post by Wallingford » Sat May 12, 2007 3:24 pm

Don't like it quite as well as I do other French symphonies, but it HAS grown on me a small bit. I prefer the Coppola, Paray & Mitropoulos recordings.
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Re: Chausson, Symphony in B-flat, Anybody?

Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 13, 2007 3:48 am

slofstra wrote:How is this piece regarded? The CBC played one movement the other day, and it sounded like Wagner but better. Is there a definitive account?

I had never heard of Chausson by the way (which probably doesn't mean much). How is he regarded?
You might enjoy his songs. He's not had the reputation of Debussy or Ravel or Hahn, but his songs are quite good. There's a collection of them under the guiding hand of the inimitable Graham Johnson. Johnson's liner notes are small books and worth price of the discs in his French song cycles.
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pardew
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Post by pardew » Sun May 13, 2007 4:45 am

The Chausson Symphony seems to be one of those works not of the first rank but blessed with fine recordings.
I own a Decca LP with Ansermet coducting la Suisse Romande,in sound Decca was famed for during the 60s.

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Post by david johnson » Sun May 13, 2007 6:10 am

i have mata & ansermet. enjoyable listening for me.

dj

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Post by Auntie Lynn » Sun May 13, 2007 8:54 am

I have a really tired old recording of this on analog which I just love...BTW, help me out here - isn't Eduardo Mata the conductor who died while piloting his plane back to Mexico a number of years ago??

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Post by Lance » Sun May 13, 2007 11:42 am

Auntie Lynn wrote:I have a really tired old recording of this on analog which I just love...BTW, help me out here - isn't Eduardo Mata the conductor who died while piloting his plane back to Mexico a number of years ago??
Yes, I believe you are right on, Auntie Lynn. The accident happened on January 4th, 1995.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 13, 2007 3:35 pm

Auntie Lynn wrote:.BTW, help me out here - isn't Eduardo Mata the conductor who died while piloting his plane back to Mexico a number of years ago??
Yeah. We had a thread on unusual manners of death for musicians. I posted on Mata.
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Post by Auntie Lynn » Sun May 13, 2007 5:43 pm

I do not mean to hijack this thread, but didn't Guido Cantelli suffer the same fate or was it William Kapell...

Honestly, I was just a baby when all this came down...

Kapell was a student of my old piano teacher...

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun May 13, 2007 8:59 pm

Auntie Lynn wrote:I do not mean to hijack this thread, but didn't Guido Cantelli suffer the same fate or was it William Kapell...

Honestly, I was just a baby when all this came down...

Kapell was a student of my old piano teacher...
Cantelli was killed in a plane crash. Kapell's death was also covered in the thread but I don't recall whether it was a plane crash or a car crash. The thread was entitled "The Day the Music Died" and dulcinea started it.
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Auntie Lynn
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Post by Auntie Lynn » Sun May 13, 2007 10:15 pm

Thanks for the 411 on the thread, which, ironically, revealed the information that Chausson met his fate by riding his bicycle into a wall...

Guess we can get back on topic now...

Jack Kelso
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Re: Chausson, Symphony in B-flat, Anybody?

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed May 16, 2007 1:07 am

slofstra wrote:How is this piece regarded? The CBC played one movement the other day, and it sounded like Wagner but better. Is there a definitive account?

I had never heard of Chausson by the way (which probably doesn't mean much). How is he regarded?
The symphony is probably regarded as his masterpiece. It belongs to a group of rather neglected 19th-century French symphonies (Lalo's in g minor, Gounod's 2nd in E-Flat, etc.) fine works----which should be heard more often.

If you thought this Chausson "sounded like Wagner but better", then either you don't get Wagner or the performance you heard was Charles Munch/Boston Sym (RCA) from the late 1950's. It's a knockout!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

slofstra
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Post by slofstra » Wed May 16, 2007 9:22 am

I have a love/ hate relationship with Wagner. Tristan und Isolde is quite profound; Der Ring is just plain weird. Sumptuous melodies throughout, singers who "sing at" you. I think the only one who really gets Wagner is Chuck Jones.

Incidentally, I saw the complete Ring this Fall - a major production in Toronto. The reaction of most of my classical music acquaintances - you poor guy, who could sit through 20 hours of that stuff. And I was trying to make them jealous. So, if I don't get Wagner, I seem to be in good company. I certainly like to take shots at him though - overblown, pretentious, pompous German music at its finest deserves to be taken down a notch at every opportunity. (But the melodies are sumptuous, no question).

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Post by Gregg » Wed May 16, 2007 4:25 pm

Well, if you are going to pick on Wagner, then the late-Romantic French are sitting ducks - and it's hunting season - as per Chuck Jones.

Actually I really like some of those composers, particularly in chamber music. As Lance said, the "concerto" really is a great work. But if one does have to pick on them, they are over indulgent and could have used a lot of editing for conciseness. On the other hand the whole "evolving an idea" kind of music - and the over indulgence of same - is not restricted to the French.

I do like the symphony, I think I like it more than Franck's. I've always thought Franck's symphony was one of the best things Liszt ever wrote, I am in the minority, I suppose. I have a Paray recoding and the, or probably, an Ansermet recording (he was lucky enough do do a lot of recording). I'll look for the Munch.


Gregg

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu May 17, 2007 12:17 am

Gregg wrote:I do like the symphony, I think I like it more than Franck's. I've always thought Franck's symphony was one of the best things Liszt ever wrote, I am in the minority, I suppose.


Gregg
Just because Franck "quoted slightly" Liszt's "Les Préludes" doesn't lower the quality of spiritual value of the symphony.

It's pure César Franck----through and through.....and stands with the finest contemporary symphonic creations of Bruckner, Brahms and Tschaikowsky.

And that's not from me alone....

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Gregg
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Post by Gregg » Thu May 17, 2007 10:14 pm

Jack Kelso wrote: Just because Franck "quoted slightly" Liszt's "Les Préludes" doesn't lower the quality of spiritual value of the symphony.

It's pure César Franck----through and through.....and stands with the finest contemporary symphonic creations of Bruckner, Brahms and Tschaikowsky.

Well, I was being a little tongue in cheek, but the overall sound of the work is Lisztian, to my ears.

Of the four composers mentioned in your post, I'd place the Franck sym as # 4 - and you didn't include Dvorak, so maybe #5?

Gregg

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Post by pizza » Fri May 18, 2007 12:44 am

I heard Monteux do the Franck live and it was an experience I'll never forget. Of course I also have his knock-yer-socks-off recording with the CSO. IMO, nothing else comes close.

If there's a question of another composer's influence, to my ears there's more Berlioz in it than Liszt.

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Fri May 18, 2007 2:18 am

Gregg wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: Just because Franck "quoted slightly" Liszt's "Les Préludes" doesn't lower the quality of spiritual value of the symphony.

It's pure César Franck----through and through.....and stands with the finest contemporary symphonic creations of Bruckner, Brahms and Tschaikowsky.

Well, I was being a little tongue in cheek, but the overall sound of the work is Lisztian, to my ears.
Of the four composers mentioned in your post, I'd place the Franck sym as # 4 - and you didn't include Dvorak, so maybe #5?

Dvorâk's last three symphonies are masterpieces, but he's not quite as heavily expressive as the others. The same with Raff----fine, tuneful symphonies, but lack that dynamic power.

Franck's melodic design is more French and lyrical than Liszt's short, four-square themes. Also, Franck's orchestration is very organ-like---as opposed to Liszt in the tone-poems or "Dante" and "Faust" symphonies. Franck's harmonies are also not Lisztian.......

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Gregg
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Post by Gregg » Fri May 18, 2007 5:16 pm

Ok, ok, you beat me down, I'll listen to it again, and I won't think of Liszt (much).

Gregg

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Post by Bösendorfer » Wed May 23, 2007 3:28 am

Here's a realplayer link to Chausson's symphony for anyone not having a recording (will work until 7 June roughly). It's with Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège, Louis Langrée.

Just heard it for the first time, and I was impressed.

Florian

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