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Unknown Music?


MusingMuso
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Quite by accident, I came across two fascinating pieces of music; the first from the pen of Antonin Wiedermann, the Czech composer (which I was looking for), and another piece which totally took me by surprise.

 

The 'Impetuoso' by Wiedermann sounds highly viurtuosic; barely pausing for breath as befits the title.

 

The second is a Fuga Sopra on a certain well-known theme, by Guy Bovet.

 

It needs no introduction whatsoever!

 

You can listen to both at the following link:-

 

http://theatreorgans.com/giwro/ra/

 

Don't be put off by theatre organ title, because in addition to the Wiedermann and the Bovet, there are files of the rarely heard Schroder Sonata for organ.

 

MM

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  • 2 weeks later...

In a recent post, I mentioned some unknown music or little heard music, and supplied a URL for your listening pleasure.

 

What I have discovered, in my seemingly endless research into Czech music, has absolutely stunned me.

 

The composer Zelenka, although working in Dresden, was Czech by birth and therefore qualifies as a Czech composer. In fact, he returned to Prague in his later professional life.

 

Much of the music has lay dormant for centuries, and to this day, only a fraction of his works have been recorded. However, the choral music is regarded as equal to that of Bach and Handel, and certainly, the superlative Kyrie from the Thanksgiving Mass is nothing short of spectacular.

 

Here are a few URL's for your listening pleasure:-

 

http://misek.sbor.cz/detail_clanek.php?id=...2617e91595a2d51

 

http://www.jdzelenka.net/Suscepit_Israel.mp3

 

http://www.baroquecds.com/31Web.html

 

http://wpool.com/move/snd/dixit.mp3

 

http://wpool.com/move/snd/euge.mp3

 

http://www.concilium.at/emaincd.htm

 

Of great interest to me is the fact that among the known works are 3 organ concerti, of which I know absolutely nothing, but quite clearly, with a composer of such calibre, they may be as equally important as those of Handel.

 

Once more, I am fascinated by what I have stumbled across in my research of Czech music.

 

MM

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There is a recording by Nicholas Kynaston which features 2 pieces by Wiedermann. They do sound like fun . I think the organ was Chichester - but I cant find the CD to check right now.

 

I also heard him play some Wiedermann in Westminster cathedral.

 

=====================

 

 

Czechoslovakia, now two separate countries of course, enjoyed something of a boom time economically prior to the great Wall Street crash, when it was the 4th wealthiest country in the world.

 

A number of very large organs were built; especially in Prague and Brno.

 

Wiedermann was active in Prague and popularised the organ with extensive recitals. Thus far, I know only a limited amount about his many compositions, but that is the fun of researching and just finding out about things.

 

Wiedermann was certainly responsible for totally transforming an old baroque organ, which if I recall correctly, was that in St.Jame's, Prague, which became a large, neo-romantic (Hey! That's a new title!) instrument of considerable size, on which many of his recitals were performed. Until that time, many organs still retained the short-compass pedals, which must have made Middelshulte something of a challenge!

 

His place in Czech music history is therefore important, for he established the modern recital instrument in a country which had stopped-still in organic terms for a very long-time.

 

Recent works which have come to light include a Toccata by Robert Mimra, who has written a superb triple concerto for piano, harpsichord and organ (varhany) as detailed previously.

 

Of great interest is a work called "The sphinx" by a composer called Pavel Kopecky. Modern it certainly is, but as with so much Czech music, the rhythms drive things along, and dissonance seems much less offensive as a result. I don't know whether this work is published.

 

Part of the problem in investigating the contemporary Czech organ-repertoire is the lack of recordings on the one hand, and a certain indifference when it comes to promotion of material. Buying all the music is not an option, largely due to the enormous amount of repertoire composed for the organ in the past 50 years and the cost of obtaining it all.

 

I suspect that our Czech friends have the same problem as we do, in that the organ, whilst a respected instrument, is too closely associated with church and is thus on the margins of mainstream musical repertoire; possibly because the Czech Republic has more atheists per hectacre than almost anywhere else in Europe. Compare this to the extraordinary fact that, just over the border in Poland, 85% of people are regular church-goers!

 

MM

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  • 1 year later...

Once again, my never-ending quest into Central European music has unearthed something of great interest.

 

Mozart was a frequent visitor to Prague; some of his operas being performed there for the first time. Also, there is the "Prague Symphony" in just 3 movements, if I recall correctly. (I think this was the Bohemian way of doing it).

 

There is the famous story of Allegri's "Miserere" which Mozart was supposed to have heard, and then went away and wrote it down.

 

However, it seems that Mozart once improvised when he was in Czechoslovakia, and a listening musician went away and wrote down what he could remember. This remained incomplete, but in the last century, a certain Jiri Ropek, (the well known Czech virtuoso organist, one time organist of the basilica of St.James' Prague, and professor at the Prague Conservertoire ,who died last year, I believe), stumbled across this incomplete transcription of the Mozart improvisation, and decided to complete it.

 

The work is known as the "Strahower Improvisation (Fantasia in G minor), KV 528a"

 

I wonder, has anyone ever heard this performed?

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Certainly not "unknown music," I was pondering the Mushel Toccata and something which "Vox Humana" said about it being a "Cossack Dance."

 

I'm not sure that it could be called Cossack, which is an band of people I more normally associate with the Ukraine. However, I would go along with the concept of it owing much to Uzbek music, and possibly the sabre-dances of the Turcs and Ottomans who ran around Central Asia slicing people into small pieces with their very special, and finely sharpened weapons of mass destruction.

 

I discovered that Georgi Mushel worked most of his professional life in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, and made a life-long study of ethnic Uzbek music. It's actually a bit more "marxist" than that, because the Russians sought to "improve" the music and raise standards, but felt that this should come from the grass-roots of ethnic folk-song and culture. The experiment was a total flop of course, and people just carried on with their folk-tunes and mournful Asian love-songs derived from Iranian music. I mean, why should people who can slice your ear off with a flick of the bic, worry about what a few glorious revolutionaries thought?

 

Then the stark fact presented itself, that Uzbekistan is closer to Afghanistan and China, than it is respectively to Moscow or London; being 5 time-zones East of GMT.

 

I thought I would just share this with you.

 

MM

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Once again, my never-ending quest into Central European music has unearthed something of great interest.

 

However, it seems that Mozart once improvised when he was in Czechoslovakia, and a listening musician went away and wrote down what he could remember. This remained incomplete, but in the last century, a certain Jiri Ropek, (the well known Czech virtuoso organist, one time organist of the basilica of St.James' Prague, and professor at the Prague Conservertoire ,who died last year, I believe), stumbled across this incomplete transcription of the Mozart improvisation, and decided to complete it.

 

The work is known as the "Strahower Improvisation (Fantasia in G minor). KV 528a"

 

I wonder, has anyone ever heard this performed?

 

Peter King has recently recorded it at Bath Abbey - a Mozart only CD - scroll down a bit on the link below. By all accounts it is a good sound.

 

http://www.regent-records.co.uk/Previously_released.html

 

AJJ

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