Friday 25 April 2014

Extremely fine performances of symphonies by Johann Nepomuk David from Johannes Wildner and the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien on a new release from CPO

The Austrian composer, Johann Nepomuk David (1895-1977), studied at St Florian near Linz before going on to study with Joseph Marx at the Vienna Academy. He worked as a school teacher, organist and choirmaster before teaching at the conservatories in Leipzig, Salzburg then Stuttgart.

Most of his early compositions were lost or destroyed. His later works are influenced by Paul Hindemith and Max Reger and, later, incorporated serial techniques. His compositions include Das Choralwerk, twenty one volumes of organ music, two violin concertos and eight symphonies, two of which are features on a new release from CPO

Johannes Wildner  conducts the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien in performances of Symphony No.1 in A minor and Symphony No.6. Johannes Wildner is well known for his numerous recordings for a number of record companies including symphonic works by Joseph Marx also with the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, on CPO. 
777 741-2

Pizzicato strings open the Allegro moderato of David’s Symphony No.1 in A minor, Op.18 (1936/37) before a woodwind melody soon appears, giving way to a more expansive version of the theme. There are certain Hindemithian overtones but this is distinctive music that knows where it is going. Soon the music slows and quietens with pizzicato strings appearing.  The music takes off again in the strings in this forward moving theme where there are some attractive woodwind moments. This music has a terrific forward pulse and some lovely orchestral sonorities. The music eventually rises to a dynamic climax full of contrapuntal textures. A lovely woodwind passage with pizzicato strings leads to the settled coda.

A rhythmic plod opens the Andante Sostenuto, a serious theme that gives way to a more flowing woodwind section, a rather plaintive melody. Soon the brass join the pizzicato strings adding a pulse. Again there are lovely woodwind parts in this movement which soon becomes more passionate. However, the plodding tempo returns before the sound of a wind ensemble appears and the strings pick up on the theme. David has an attractive way of shifting the melody around the orchestra. Eventually the music rises up passionately again, predominantly in the strings before the pizzicato strings return, almost funereal, leading to the end.

A light and airy string theme opens the Allegro assai with attractive woodwind decoration and still that intense contrapuntal texture. A slow broad central section arrives before the fast music of the opening returns more emphatically to conclude.

The orchestra rushes straight into the string textures of Allegro con brio with more lovely woodwind motifs before the themes are woven in terrific contrapuntal music. David uses all the sections of the orchestra in his weaving of musical lines before leading through an impressive layering of sounds to arrive at a formidably strong coda.

This is a distinctive and engrossing work that is well worth repeated hearing.

A burst of orchestra opens the Allegro of Symphony No.6, Op.46 (1954/66), the orchestra moving quickly forward before slowing to a quieter reflective passage. The music soon rises up again full of outward flow, music of excitement, joy and energy and a great outpouring of interwoven ideas. The movement eventually reaches a peak to conclude.

A rather sad melody opens the Adagio with beautiful shifting harmonies and a lovely passage for flute. The music then rises up with a sudden string outpouring before brass enter, then various woodwind as the theme is shared around the orchestra. Eventually the music quietens to a lovely woodwind melody with strings before trumpets rise up. However, the music again drops to a gentle hushed section for shimmering strings, a gorgeous moment where David provides some extremely attractive blends of instrumental sound. Pizzicato strings and a flute melody lead the music towards its gentle, hushed coda.

In the unusual Wiener Walzer, a note from woodwind and side drum open the movement before strings enter in a flowing theme, still pointed up by the side drum. The music rises up and develops rhythmically into a veiled waltz rhythm heard through a tapestry of instrumental sounds before descending to a strange passage for woodwind and strings. The waltz theme appears again, as if in a dream, but the music rises up with the waltz theme all but hidden in the dynamic orchestral texture. Later a xylophone heralds a strange, dramatic section as the orchestra builds to a climax, suddenly cut off to allow for a quiet wind section to bring about the coda.

The Allegro opens with a strong, forward thrusting orchestra rising to a joyous outpouring before moderating, with woodwind weaving around the theme. A xylophone lightens the texture and David, again, weaves such a fine orchestral tapestry, often full of drama and momentum. Eventually the music drops to a melancholy brass chorale, to which woodwind eventually add a most attractive sound in this lovely section. A gong sounds as the wind ensemble carries on forward before the music suddenly takes off with the whole orchestra, including xylophone, leading to a resolute coda.

Through much of this symphony, David creates a terrific blend of woven instrumental sounds. This is music that is full of life, ideas, textures and contrapuntal ingenuity.

Performance from Johannes Wildner and the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien conducted are extremely fine. There is an excellent recording from the Grosser Sendesaal, ORF Funkhaus and booklet notes with musical examples.

Those who are attracted to the music of Hindemith will certainly enjoy these works but, in the way that Johann David takes his music further in a way that is forward looking yet still retaining a melodic core, there is a wider interest.

No comments:

Post a Comment