Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hey Mr Conductor (Part 4)

Working in America? Give the punters something lusciously local; Charles Loeffler's La Mort de Tintagiles. Now there's one snag to this otherwise wonderful 1895 work of proto-Impressionism - you'll need a viola d'amore player. Loeffler (1861-1935) originally decreed two obbligato violi d'amore. But then again he was an unconventional fellow; born in Russia of French parents, he emigrated to the States in his teens and became quite the dandy. His cosmopolitanism allowed him to absorb French and Russian influences, and Rimsky and Debussy are close to the surface of this garish, thrilling symphonic poem based on - who else, at this time?-Maeterlinck. Now if you're over there you're either touring with an excellent band or you'll have a home-based one close at hand, which should guarantee a high degree of technical capability. Good - cos the score demands it. Hair-raising, lavish, voluptuous - and if you're really stuck for a viola d'amore soloist, just try the same composer's Pagan Poem (1903). Just as luxuriant, just as OTT, just as good.
Recordings: Nelson (New World)(Tintagiles), Stokowski (EMI) (Pagan Poem)
Comparable repertoire: Ravel, Shéhérazade overture; Roussel 1
Like this? Try these: Gruenberg, Symphony No.2; Griffes, The White Peacocks

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