Thursday, January 12, 2012

Honegger: Pastorale d’Été, Symphony No. 4, Cantate de Noël

"Since the London Philharmonic Orchestra engaged the Russian maestro Vladimir Jurowski as its principal conductor in 2007, this august institution has reaped consistently strong notices for its dynamic, exacting performances and broad repertory. ... Associated with the Parisian composers’ klatch Les Six, Honegger often found himself at odds with the group’s anti-Wagnerian modernist cheek. In his best-known work, 'Pacific 231,' a modern orchestra’s heft and might evokes the machine-tooled power of a locomotive. That work is not included here, but its brawn comes through in parts of 'Une Cantate de Noël' ('A Christmas Cantata'), completed by a terminally ill Honegger in 1953. Created partly from themes he composed during World War II, the 22-minute piece for baritone soloist, adult and children’s choirs and orchestra opens in a gloomy tone, rising to a haunting plaint. But from there the piece proceeds through a medley of European carols, blazing with joy up to its serene finale. The baritone Christopher Maltman ... sings with care and passion. Mr. Jurowski maintains a balance among the work’s dense layers, and the orchestra plays brilliantly. Add in lucid accounts of Honegger’s sunny Fourth Symphony ('Deliciae Basilienses') and gently bluesy 'Pastorale d’Été,' and what results is a disc admirable in all seasons" (Steve Smith, "Classical Recordings," New York Times, 12/25/11).
View catalog record here!