ISTVAN ANHALT (1919-2012): 4 Portraits from Memory (SALT Festival Orchestra; Ajtony Csaba), … the timber of those times… (…a theogony…) (Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Csaba).

Catalogue Number: 09V047

Label: Centrediscs

Reference: CCMCD 26419

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: Born in Budapest, Anhalt received his musical education there, managed to survive Hungarian antisemitism and the Nazis, travelled to France after the war, studied with Boulanger, and then moved to Canada, where he became an important figure in contemporary music for the second half of the 20th century. He embraced dodecaphony and became a pioneer in Canadian electronic music, but later in his career he abandoned compositional dogmas and avant-gardism and adopted an idiom that was wider-ranging and, on the strength of these impressive orchestral suites (his final orchestral works), unabashedly tonal, even neo-Romantic, but original and anything but reactionary. The 'Theogony' comprises five self-contained tone poems, a monumental opening Pantheon and portraits of its denizens - the riddling movement titles disguise the identities of figures from Greek mythology (Zeus, Hephaistos and Pandora, Ares and Aphrodite, and Hermes). The opening movement is grand and resonant, and strongly reminiscent of some specific gestures of Shostakovich, with a good measure of grandiose theatricality thrown in. A triumphal Procession follows, then the theatrical gestures come to the fore - the blacksmith's hammer and the whirring into life of his flawed creation are wittily and programmatically portrayed, as are the belligerent fanfares of the war god and the wiles of the seductress. The finale is fleet and energetic, but just a little cacophonously deranged as befits the mischievous god of all trades, who settles down to to his role as guide of souls to Hades in a tenebrous coda. The reason the Portraits are drawn from memory is that they are memorials. The work was originally a piano suite, and the composer’s orchestral version rearranges the movements to end with the deeply tragic Light....Shade....and in between.... with its utterly desolate tolling bells. Anhalt seems to have delighted in oblique titles; those of the piano work reveal more about the movements' subjects: ... Instead  (...of answering a letter.....a fare-well...) (For Judith Anhalt, my half - sister (jan. 7, 1935 - feb. 23, 2005) with love... : Dirge for George Rochberg....a soul-brother (a song of mourning and incomprehension) : In the memory of Andres Kelemen a friend ... 1924 - 44 ... 2005 - 6 ... who lived to the  'good name'... : Light....Shade....and in between.... In rememberance of Ingebourg Mohr....painter and friend. The music is spare, with little of the opulence of 'Timber', and each movement is built on a minimal amount of material; the very personal and intimate reminiscences are suffused with the deepest and most inconsolable mourning.


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