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Little-known music of all eras => New recordings => Topic started by: Dundonnell on April 23, 2019, 05:17:39 pm

Title: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Dundonnell on April 23, 2019, 05:17:39 pm
Goodness gracious me!

Having only very recently lamented the dearth of Swiss Music on cd along comes: (

I do hope that "Volume 1" does actually mean that there will be further instalments! Sometimes in the past this has not always been the case.

Now...what about some Willy Burkhard and Conrad Beck.

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Dundonnell on April 23, 2019, 05:23:41 pm
Most of Sutermeister's music is choral but there are three piano concertos, two cello concertos and a clarinet concerto.

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: M. Yaskovsky on April 24, 2019, 09:24:11 am
Oh, how I hate orchestral works with a speaking voice  >:(

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Dundonnell on April 24, 2019, 08:49:04 pm
Oh, how I hate orchestral works with a speaking voice  >:(

I understand that....but the work in question is only one of four compositions on the disc.

Incidentally, Toccata refers to Sutermeister as one of the generation which followed Ernest Bloch (born 1880), Othmar Schoeck (born 1886), Frank Martin (born 1890) and Arthur Honegger (born 1892). The composers of the next generation would include:

BECK, CONRAD (1901-89)
FLURY, RICHARD (1896-1967)
GEISER, WALTHER (1897-1993)
LEVY, ERNST (1895-1981)
VOGEL, WLADIMIR (1896-1984)

So Sutermeister would be the youngest of that generation by far.

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: dhibbard on May 09, 2019, 11:42:17 pm
Here is his obit:

The Swiss composer Heinrich Sutermeister wrote chamber music, cantatas, and several concertos for piano, cello and clarinet, but it is his operas for theatre, radio and television, that are best known and will be remembered longest.

Usually providing his own texts, Sutermeister adapted works by Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Wilde and Stevenson during the 50 years that he was actively engaged in writing operas. His first major success, Romeo and Juliet, was, according to the 1954 edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ``after Rosenkavalier . . . the most frequently performed modern opera''. A later opera, Raskolnikoff, reached La Scala, Milan, while others were staged in Munich and Berlin. From 1963 to 1975 Sutermeister taught composition at the Hanover Hochschule fr Musik.

The chief influences in forming Sutermeister's style were Arthur Honegger, who first inspired him to write music, and Carl Orff, with whom he studied for a time. He particularly admired the Verdi/Boito Otello and Falstaff, and also Debussy's Pellas et Mlisande, striving in his own operas to combine musical and dramatic expression in the manner of those masterpieces. When, in the Fifties and Sixties, he was considered old-fashioned, he found his own audience with hugely successful television operas.

Sutermeister was born in Feuerthalen, in the canton of Schaffhausen. After studying philology in Basle and Paris, in 1931 he turned to musicology at Basle University. From 1932 to 1934 he attended the Akademie der Tonkunst in Munich, where his teachers included Walter Courvoisier, Hans Pfitzner and Carl Orff. Returning to Switzerland, he worked for a year as a rptiteur at the Municipal Theatre in Berne, before becoming a full-time composer. Sutermeister's first opera, Die schwarze Spinne, with text by A. Rosler, was written for radio and broadcast in 1936. A stage version was performed at St Gall in 1949. Meanwhile, his ballet Das Dorf unter dem Gletscher was danced at Karlsruhe in 1937 and followed in 1938 by Andreas Gryphius, the first of eight cantatas that he wrote, and one of his finest early works.

Romeo and Juliet, for which Sutermeister made his own adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, was commissioned by Karl Bhm, who conducted the premiere at the Dresden State Opera in 1940. Maria Cebotari, the soprano for whom the part of Juliet was specially written, scored a great personal triumph. The opera, too, was very successful and for the next 20 years continued to appear frequently in German-speaking theatres. Die Zauberinsel, adapted from The Tempest, was also given its first performance at Dresden, in 1942, but proved less popular than his previous Shakespeare setting.

Sutermeister's next theatre piece was Niobe, a monodrama with text by his brother Peter, first performed at Zurich in 1946. Combining speech, choral music and dance, this work most clearly shows the influence of Orff. For the opera which followed, Sutermeister went to Stockholm, where Raskolnikoff was premiered at The Royal Swedish Opera on 14 October 1948. The text, based on Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, was again by Peter Sutermeister. Though the musical idiom of Raskolnikoff remains as easy to assimilate, the dramatic structure has become more complicated than in Sutermeister's earlier operas: two separate orchestras illustrate the outer and inner life of the protagonist, who is represented by two different singers, a tenor and a bass. I went to a performance of Raskolnikoff in Stockholm at that time and found it an utterly absorbing experience, which still remains vivid after 47 years. Though less generally popular than Romeo and Julieta, it was staged in a number of other theatres, including La Scala, where it received four performances in 1950, conducted by Issay Dobrowen, who had conducted the premiere.

A variety of works followed: two radio-ballads, Fingerhtchen and Die Fsse im Feuer, were broadcast in 1950, and respectively staged in St Gall and at the City Opera, Berlin, later the same year. Der Rote Steifel, the adaptation of a fairy tale by Wilhelm Hauff, Das Kalte Hertz, was performed at Stockholm in 1951. Titus Feuerfuchs, a burlesque opera based on Nestroy's Der Talisman, scored some success in Basle in 1958, although the composer was accused of diluting the satire of the original. However, two television operas were extremely popular: Seraphine (1959), a comic opera after Rabelais, was staged at the Cuvillis Theatre, Munich, in 1960; while Das Gespenst von Canterville (1964), based on Oscar Wilde's story "The Canterville Ghost", was even more successful. Der Flaschenteufel ("The Bottle Imp"), adapted by R.K. Weibel from a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, was screened on German television in 1971.

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Dundonnell on May 10, 2019, 10:32:43 pm
(A blanket of silence seems to have descended upon the forum over the past week ::) I am grateful to Dave for having posted above!)

Although I have taken delivery of the new Sutermeister disc I have not actually had time to listen to it.

However I have gone back and listened again to the Wergo disc of Sutermeister's Requiem and Te Deum. Both works are as magnificent as I recalled! The Requiem was premiered on Italian Radio in 1954 by Herbert von Karajan no less. Profoundly moving, more than accessible mid-20th century compositions they highlight Sutermeister's mastery of choral music on the grand scale. I cannot recommend this disc highly enough!

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Dundonnell on May 12, 2019, 10:34:57 pm
The more Sutermeister I hear the more I am impressed by him as a composer!

The new Toccata disc is a delight from start to finish. "Die Alpen" could do without the spoken narration but the orchestral writing is sumptuous. The last movement contains a magnificent depiction of the mountains in all their fabulous glory but closes with wonderful horns evoking alpenhorns at dusk.

Sutermeister's music is entirely tonal and actually remarkably beautiful. Above all it is distinguished by its sensibilities to a 20th century romanticism which reminds me of composers like RVW (although Sutermeister is not a Swiss Vaughan Williams the "Aubade pour Morges" would be enjoyed by any lovers of the English composer!) or Ravel. The Divertimento No.2 is exceptionally fine- yes, influenced by Poulenc and Honegger but with a refined, stateliness which I find incredibly appealing. There are no "rough edges", there is no asperity, just music of genuine taste, beauty and distinction. It does not relapse into any kind of self-indulgent, "easy romanticism", but confidently asserts a mid-20th century version which entitles Sutermeister to be rescued from neglect, indeed almost total anonymity outside his native Switzerland.

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: mjkFendrich on May 13, 2019, 09:03:53 pm
Hello Colin,

my discovery of Sutermeister, initiated by this recent Toccata release (which I haven't heard yet),
came with YouTube posts by Remus Platen (unfortunately he now has withdrawn most of his posts)
of Sutermeister's piano concertos no.1 and 2. I am now going to post these 2 works on Mediafire.
His 1st PC is a major discovery for me, the recording of the 2nd is from a Bavarian broadcast, not
identical to the more recent release on a Musique Suisse CD.

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Dundonnell on May 14, 2019, 12:01:30 am
Thank you so much for making these recordings available. The Piano Concerto No.1 is totally new to me and I shall listen to it, in particular, with the greatest interest :)

Title: Re: Heinrich Sutermeister Orchestral Works from Toccata
Post by: Gauk on May 14, 2019, 07:35:48 pm
I do think spoken words in a piece of music are a grave mistake. It is natural (for evolutionary reasons even) to pay more attention to speech than music, so when the speaker is speaking, you don't really hear the music, and when the speaker is not speaking, you are posed for the next bit of speech.