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CLASSICAL  September 2005

CLASSICAL September 2005

Subject:

Re: The Chamber Music of Louis Glass

From:

Scott Morrison <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Sep 2005 16:58:40 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (53 lines)

Here is my slightly different take on the disc of chamber music by Louis
Glass:

Louis Glass (1864-1936) was born in Copenhagen a year before his compatriot
Carl Nielsen, but his music is much older-sounding that Nielsen's, largely
because he was initially a follower of the style of the notably conservative
Niels Gade, a composer who was the leader of the previous generation of
Danish composers.  The son of a piano professor, Glass reached professional
levels in both his piano and cello playing and indeed made his solo debut
playing each of those instruments.  He was a leading pedagogue in Denmark
at the end of the 19th century and up to his death in the 1930s.  He was
later influenced by the music of Franck and Bruckner.  He is primarily
remembered for his symphonies.  Here we have his two most important
chamber pieces, a string sextet and a piano quintet, played by Danish
musicians.

The String Sextet in G Major, Op. 15, is a four-movement work
(fast-slow-fast-fast) notable for its square thematic material, often
repeated in sequences, and its insistent, if sometimes awkward, rhythmic
figures.  Although written in the early 1890s, harmonically it sounds
as if it could have been written thirty years earlier.  There is some
influence of Bruckner in the block construction.  Aside from a harmonically
interesting trio section in the scherzo and the neat formal construction,
this is not a terribly memorable work. The string sextet, Copenhagen
Classic, plays with ardor that sometimes approaches harshness.

In the Piano Quintet in C Major, Op. 22, Copenhagen Classic are joined
by pianist Christina Bjoerkoe.  The instrumentation is that of the
Schumann Piano Quintet.  Written 5-6 years after the Sextet, the Piano
Quintet was dedicated to the Swedish composer and violinist Tor Aulin
whose Aulin String Quartet (with composer Wilhelm Stenhammar at the
piano) premiered the work in 1897.  Possibly because Glass was himself
a fine pianist as well as a string player, the work blends the sounds
of strings and piano expertly.  But in a number of passages the work
almost sounds like a piano concerto with string accompaniment.  This
allows Glass to vary his means of construction and in the event the
Quintet is an altogether more impressive piece than the Sextet.  The
work opens with a striking ceremonial fanfare-like passage whose rhythm
recurs throughout.  There are Schumannesque passages that feature the
'Legendton' sound so frequent in Schumann's piano music; one hears the
similarity of that sound to the organ-influenced string writing deriving
from Bruckner and this makes for a satisfying stylistic synthesis.  It
may be simply because I preferred the Quintet, but it sounds as if the
instrumentalists are more convinced by the quality of the Quintet than
the Sextet.  Whatever the reason, this is a successful performance of a
worthy late Romantic chamber work.

TT 71:00

Review at
   http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009JVOJS/classicalnetA/

Scott Morrison

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