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Symphonic Works Vol. 2


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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Everything but Memorable Melody April 29 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The case of Ernst Boehe (1880-1938; sometimes spelled Böhe) is like that of any number of musicians who started out to be composers but are ultimately remembered primarily for their work as conductors (one thinks of Weingartner and Furtwängler). In this case, the orchestra playing Boehe's music is the one that he essentially founded just after World War I, the one now-called the State Philharmonic of the Rhineland-Palatinate (Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz) based in Ludwigshafen am Rhein. The music contained herein was all written in his twenties, and indeed he did not write much of anything after he took up conducting full-time. Here we have three tone poems, each more than twenty minutes long, each in the style of Richard Strauss, a kind of hyperchromatic, contrapuntal, richly orchestrated music intended to convey emotional states as well as points in a narrative. There is occasional full-brass bluster reminiscent of Bruckner. And there are occasionally interesting moments, but not enough to rescue these overblown concoctions.

First is the fourth section of a tetralogy called 'Aus Odysseus' Fahrten' ('From Ulysses' Voyages') called 'Odysseus' Heimkehr' ('Ulysses' Return Home'). It is a 29 minute description of the travails of Ulysses as he tries to return from his adventures to his faithful wife Penelope. Musically it is characterized by a paucity of memorable melodies that nonetheless are put through the harmonic grinder, with incessant modulation clothed in inventive orchestration. It all adds up to very little although the thrust of the music would have us believe that this is Important Stuff.

Much the same can be said for the other two works included here: 'Taormina,' a tone poem commemorating Boehe's vacation in Sicily, and 'Symphonisch Epilog zur einer Tragödie' ('Symphonic Epilog to a Tragedy'). Both are occasionally soured by some uncertain brass intonation.

One wants so much for this music to be more than it is, but the truth is that for all Boehe's skill as a manipulator of musical materials, he doesn't really have anything that important to say even though he keeps repeating it more loudly. It's probably just as well that he spent the majority of his adult life as a well-respected conductor in his native southern Germany.

The performances here by Werner Andreas Albert and the Rheinland-Pfalz Philharmonic are all one could expect. And the sound is full, rich and lifelike. And in spite of my cavils about this music, my hat is off to cpo for bringing us bits and pieces of late romantic music from Germany; otherwise we would not have had their marvelous releases of music by Emil von Reznicek from them ('Der Sieger' and 'Schlemihl').

Scott Morrison
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
More Bountiful and Bounding Boehe.... Aug. 23 2008
By Neal Schultz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
As I indicated on my review of the CPO's highly enjoyable vol.1 of Boehe's works...I am no more a shill for the second-tier composers for the sake of dethroning our composer royalty than I would be a musical grumposaurus who demands that all of his music must always be in the Classical Music Top 500.

Boehe is, to be sure, part of that burgeoning second-tier of composers that labels like CPO have done an outstanding job of unearthing much to my delight. Not because Boehe is a hand-me-down composer of [R.] Strauss's or Zemlinsky crowd that I make allusions to their style but only as a reference to the listener who, like me, wants to know whom an unknown composer's music is comparable to.

Now this is BIG music here. Not the retiring sort of laid-back music we might program for a quiet dinner party. Uhhhh.....no. I must agree with Mr. Morrison's point that we really want "...so much for this music to be more than it is." However, I do not agree with the rest of his review that this music is wind that blows everywhere and goes nowhere. Indeed it does to my ears. My sense is that this music will mean the MOST to you if you are not a newcomer to classical music; and that your ears have already been "schooled" in the breadth and scope of complex late romantic music. If so, then Boehe should be a hidden gem for you.

The playing of the Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz under Maestro Albert and CPO's sonics are reliably first-rate even when dealing with the congestion in some of the louder parts of these compositions. The first time I heard these two CDs (see my review of Vol. 1 of Boehe as well) I ranked them in my Windows Media Player a strong 3 and 4 stars. After repeated hearing I have bumped up their scores. Surely a mark of music that continues to reward the listener over time. 4 stars -- strongly recommended.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Interesting Late German Romantic Nov. 7 2006
By Kenneth Gilman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This music is much better & more enjoyable than the other review would lead you to think. Please see my review of the Vol. 1 of Boehe's tone poems.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Rewarding, but not quite on the level of the first installment in the series Jan. 16 2011
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ernst Boehe (1880-1938) is another German late romantic who has been more or less completely forgotten. While his music will probably never come to dominate concert programs, at least CPO's efforts on his behalf are very welcome. Boehe's idiom is relatively conservative, heavily indebted to Strauss and Wagner (and Reznicek, to take another composer revived by CPO) but also to Brahms, though there are some individual touches. The music is highly colorful, lush and opulent and exhibits a very wide expressive range, from the deepest reaches of tragedy to almost ethereal brilliance, and it is brilliantly scored. The thematic material is perhaps more variable, but Boehe certainly had some striking melodic ideas as well.

Boehe composed four symphonic poems based on The Odyssey. The first three were given in the first volume of this series; here we get the half-hour conclusion "Odysseus' Heimkehr". As the previous works in the cycle, this is a brilliant, melodically rich, opulent, highly dramatic late romantic score full of dazzling coloristic effects. It may not be the strongest of the four works, but it is still a very fine conclusion to a very impressive cycle, and will not disappoint anyone with a penchant for Straussian symphonic poems. It may not contain any strikingly memorable themes, but manages to sustain the listener's interest throughout its relatively substantial duration surprisingly well nonetheless.

Taormina is another work trying to achieve an epic sweep. It is not quite as successful as the Odysseus works, but still very fine, even though the idiom here strikes me as even more conservative than in the other music I have heard by this composer. The Symphonic Epilogue to a Tragedy is perhaps more impressive, harmonically inventive and containing some really good ideas. It is, however, a little too long for its material even though the end, where the oppressive gloom finally gives away, is very impressively done. The Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz under Werner Andreas Albert plays with all the expected lushness, color, enthusiasm and attention to detail (there are a few questionable moments where the brass playing, in particular, doesn't quite manage to achieve perfection, but they are relatively far between), and the sound is quite good if a little on the bright side. A fine release, and if it isn't an essential acquisition, you should really check out the companion disc - in which case you will presumably need the final installment in the Odysseus cycle and end up acquiring this disc anyway.

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