Claude Debussy – La Demoiselle élue (1959 recording)

La Damoiselle élue (The Blessed Damozel), L. 62, is a cantata for two soloists, female choir, and orchestra, composed by Claude Debussy in 1887–1889 based on a text by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It premiered in Paris in 1893.

Nadine Saterereau, Giovanna Fiorini, soloists
Orchestra sinfonica e coro della RAI di Torino, orchestra
Sergiu Celibidache, conductor
30.01.59, recording date

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Iannis Xenakis – Empreintes (For Orchestra) (1975)

Xenakis made use of the resources of the expanded modern orchestra throughout his composing career. Visceral gestures‚ prolonged in sequences of vibrant inner activity‚ typify Xenakis’s Pythagorean ballet for Balanchine‚ Antikhthon (1971). The procedure is fined down in 1974’s Noomena‚ whose chains of sound react against each other at a dizzying rate of velocity‚ while Empreintes (1975) heralds a new phase in its more sustained growth towards a laconic‚ Stravinskian close.

Orchestra – Orchestre Philharmonique Du Luxembourg
Conductor – Arturo Tamayo

Iannis Xenakis – Aroura (for string orchestra) (1971)

Aroura is a composition for strings by Greek/French composer Iannis Xenakis. It was composed in 1971.

The title of this composition should be translated as “Earth”. It was first performed on 24 August 1971, at the Lucerne Festival. It was premiered by Rudolf Baumgartner with the festival’s Lucerne Festival Strings. It was published shortly after by Éditions Salabert.

The piece is in only one movement and takes around 12 minutes to perform. It is scored for four first violins, three second violins, two violas, two cellos and one double bass, even though it is clarified by Xenakis that it can also be performed by a larger string orchestra or ensemble. Aroura makes an extensive use of glissandos, jagged chords, sound clusters and other techniques exploited in avant-garde movements. The piece has a tempo of 𝅗𝅥 = 60 (which means two beats per second). The register of the piece ranges from a C1 (played by the double bass) to D8, played by one of the first violins. First and second violins rarely play unison, but each of the violinist has their own line. Xenakis uses graphic notation up to six times in the score, the first one being the opening of the composition.

In November 29, 1975, Elgar Howarth with the New Philharmonia Orchestra recorded the piece in Kingsway Hall, in London. The recording was released by Decca and Explore Records.

Franz Liszt – Sonata in B minor (1853)

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The Sonata in B minor, S.178, is a sonata for solo piano by Franz Liszt. It was completed in 1853 and published in 1854 with a dedication to Robert Schumann.

Liszt noted on the sonata’s manuscript that it was completed on February 2, 1853, but he had composed an earlier version by 1849. At this point in his life, Liszt’s career as a traveling virtuoso had almost entirely subsided, as he had been influenced towards leading the life of a composer rather than a performer by Carolyne zu Sayn-Wittgenstein almost five years earlier. Liszt’s life was established in Weimar and he was living a comfortable lifestyle, composing, and occasionally performing, entirely by choice rather than necessity.

The Sonata was dedicated to Robert Schumann, in return for Schumann’s dedication of his Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 (published 1839) to Liszt. A copy of the Sonata arrived at Schumann’s house in May 1854, after he had entered Endenich sanatorium. His wife Clara Schumann did not perform the Sonata; according to scholar Alan Walker she found it “merely a blind noise”.

Emil Gilels, piano. Live recording, Naples, Italy – 04.04.72.

Oscar Hylén – String Quartet in D-major (1870)

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Oscar Hylén (1846 – disappeared 1886) student to Berwald.

Work: String Quartet in D-major (1870)

Mov.I: Allegro
Mov.II: Andante
Mov.III: Scherzo: Allegro
Mov.IV: Final: Molto allegro quasi presto

Ensemble: Frydénkvartetten

Oscar Hylén (1846-1886) was born in Stockholm where he entered the Royal Swedish Conservatory. Among his several teachers was the fairly well-known composer Franz Berwald from whom he studied composition. Several of his early works were performed with success shortly after he graduated from the Conservatory. Among these was his String Quartet in D Major which dates from 1870. Although these works were well received he had difficulty making a reputation for himself. Besides composing, he pursued a career as a teacher and conductor of a Swedish touring orchestra. The Quartet was published twice, first in the early 1870’s and then again around 1900 but each time it disappeared. It was rediscovered in the 1960’s and had a brief moment of revival before disappearing yet again.

In four movements—the energetic first movement, Allegro, begins with a bang and then races forward with great elan. A lovely Andante of vocal quality comes next. the third movement is a Scherzo allegro with finely contrasting trio. A dance-like finale, Molto allegro, quasi presto, concludes the quartet.

Although this quartet is strong enough to stand on its own merits without considering whether it is historically important, the fact is that it is historically important because there were very few Swedish string quartets composed before 1870 and this one serves as a good example of musical developments in Sweden at that time.

Read more about the composer here.

10 Best Recordings of Beethoven 7 (Part 2)

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Here is part 2 of our choice of the 10 best recordings of Beethoven’s Sympony No. 7 composed in 1811-12.

The listing is chronological.

6. Frans Brüggen with Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century (2011)

7. Daniel Barenboim with West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (2011)

8. Mariss Jansons with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (2012)

9. Martin Haselbock with Wiener Akademie Orchester (2015)

10. Herbert Blomstedt with Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (2015)

Buy the recording here.

Grażyna Bacewicz – Divertimento For Strings (1970)

Bacewicz/ Baird/ Górecki/ Paciorkiewicz – Works Composed For The Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.
Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza ‎- XL 0586.
Released: 1970, Poland

Conductor – Karol Teutsch.
Orchestra – Orkiestra Kameralna Filharmonii Narodowej.

A5. Allegro
A6. Adagio
A7. Giocoso

Recorded from an Technics 1210 MKII / Ortofon 2M Red cartridge,
into the NAD PP-3 Phono Preamp, and finally into an EMU 1212M PC Music Card.

Vagn Holmboe – Eco, op. 186 (1991)

Few composers of the twentieth century were as consistent as Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996). Through out his long life he wrote music with a Zen-like balance between intellect and nature. His tonal idiom is an unmistakable concentrate that translucently combines modernism and the classical legacy with a great love of traditional folk music.

Holmboe’s music never becomes academic. It buds, grows, blossoms and contracts in an organic process that he called metamorphosis. The metamorphosis technique is quite natural to me, and it is interrelated with many things that slowly seep in through a life lived with nature,\ explained Holmboe, who was a true lover of nature. He lived for most of his life in the countryside, and planted 3000 trees with his own hands on his property by the lake Arresø in northern Zealand.

The clarinet trio Eco, op. 186 from 1991 is one of his last works. It was written for the classic configuration of clarinet, cello and piano that Beethoven and Brahms also used, and the three-movement form too is thoroughly classical.

Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli – 4 Poemi per orchestra op. 45 (1925)

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Born: July 10, 1882 – Strakonice (Strakonitz), Bohemia
Died: July 8, 1949 – Milan, Italy

The Italian composer, Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli, was of mixed Italian and Bohemian parentage. He studied at the Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi in Milan with Appiani (piano) and Ferrani (composition). He also studied in Prague and Vienna. Among his teachers was Richard Strauss.

Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli began his career as a successful concert pianist, but later turned exclusively to composition. In 1936 he succeeded Pizzetti as director of the Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi, and held this post until his death.

Riccardo Pick-Mangiagalli has produced distinctive work, including number of compositions for the piano, chamber music (the Sonata for violin and piano; the String Quartet, the Ballata Sinfonica and the Humoresque for piano and orchestra, etc.) and a lot of stage works (ballets and operas). His first stage work, Salice d’Oro, a musical fable, was produced at Milan’s La Scala in 1913, and was followed by Il carillon magico (1918). Other stage works are Sumitra, a monomimic legend (1917), and Basi e Bote (1919-1920), lyric comedy, the libretto by Arrigo Boito.

4 Poemi per orchestra op. 45 was written in 1925.

1.Elegia
2.Menestrelli
3.L’armoniosa cuna
4.Ballata macabra

Orchestra della Rai di Milano, direttore Fulvio Vernizzi (1961).

See list of works here.