Author Topic: Fritz Brun  (Read 6797 times)

eschiss1

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Fritz Brun
« on: Friday 12 March 2010, 06:39 »
Listened today to the 2nd symphony (1911) of this Swiss composer - born Lucerne 1878, died 1959 Grosshochstetten - for the first time.

(I think I recall beginning his en-Wikipedia article, but I hadn't heard anything of his until now.) It was on BBC Radio 3 last week (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00r2lk9) (Kitajenko conducting Berne Symphony).  In the 2nd symphony I hear something of Brahms (possibly the Brahms of serenade no. 2), maybe Dvorak, maybe Strauss or Bruckner; the slow movement's ending is impressively still - there's a lot to be said about this 40-minute work and really I'm still digesting it :) I do hope to hear more of his music and am glad more has been recorded. The 5th symphony of 1929 with its opening Chaconne has always sounded interesting to me.
Glad to have heard his music finally.
(Briefly see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Brun)
Anyone familiar with the other symphonies, the concertos, the string quartets, other works? Heard the other recordings, know of ones in progress? Opinions? Thanks-
Eric
"A cat, as I keep on saying, is also a cat for a' that..." - from Natsume Sōseki's Wagahai wa Neko de Aru (I Am a Cat, part 2 chapter 1)

petershott@btinternet.com

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #1 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 09:21 »
Fritz Brun seems to be becoming available (slowly!) in recordings. Thus far Adriano with a Moscow based orchestra have been his sole advocates.

Symphony 3 was issued by Sterling (CDS1059-2), but others have come out on Guild. First, Symphony 9 (GMCD7396), and later Symphonies 5 and 10 (GMCD7320). I guess Guild, being Swiss based, are keen to incorporate Brun in their portfolio of recordings. Guild have also released Symphony 8, with Variations on a Theme for Strings & Piano, but this is a 'historical' recording of 1946 - which I have not heard.

Hopefully the broadcast of Symphony 2 might find its way onto a CD soon?

So far as I know there have been no other recordings of Brun. Maybe Guild aspire to one day have all 10 symphonies. There are apparently also two concertos (one for piano, another for cello) and two string quartets. Would be interesting to know what they are like.

I confess I don't quite know what to make of Brun. For starters, the performances (and quality of recordings) of the symphonies by Adriano would seem to be excellent. (Ignore the prejudiced rantings by Hurwitz against both performances and recordings on his site). Occasional fluffs to be sure (unfamiliar stuff and inadequate rehearsal time?), but these can be no more than minor. There are some deeply impressive episodes in the symphonies I've heard, especially in slow movements. Set against that, it is often difficult to identify where the music is going: it seems disjointed, clumsy, and prone to a ramble and there seems a lack of symphonic rigour. (A very different composer, but I find the same kind of awkwardness, disjointedness, along with some superb moments in the symphonies of Havergal Brian). I read somewhere that Brun's personality was a curious mixture of the gruff and the light-hearted, so maybe this same combination of qualities is present in the music!

Possibly the fault is mine: on the one hand I'd like to persevere with the music (and certainly want to hear more Brun); on the other hand I don't somehow rush to the CD player with it. There are also a good number of solemn and portentous statements by Brun in writing about the symphonies about God, Destiny, Death, The Meaning of Life etc. At least R Strauss spared us such things and got on with the job of composing rich, self-indulgent and wonderfully orchestrated music!

I join with Eric in wanting to know what others make of this music. As for myself, perhaps I just haven't yet found the cement that binds it all together.

Peter

Marcus

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Re: Fritz Brun Symphony no2 in B flat
« Reply #2 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 10:55 »
Fritz Brun's Symphony no2 is available on the Gall Label #838 (was Gallo), and is available from Archiv USA, HB Direct & JPC.
I have this recording, and it is an impressive work. The Lucerne S.O. is conducted by Olaf Henzold.
Also on the disc is the Siegfried Idyll by Wagner & the Double Bass Concerto (1935) by Joseph Lauber (1864-1952)
Marcus.

Alan Howe

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #3 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 12:57 »
I find No.2 very convincing, if somewhat derivative in a post-Brahmsian sort of way, but No.3 is a pretty dour piece to my way of thinking. Unrelieved gloom and doom. However, I was probably in an unreceptive mood...

Mark Thomas

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #4 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 16:27 »
Spurred on by this thread, I've just finished reacquainting myself with No.5 and I think that Peter is spot on. It's all very episodic and uneven. Not as hard work as it could have been, because after a while I gave up trying to figure out what he was up to and just listened to the music, rather than trying to divine what was behind it.

Alan Howe

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #5 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 20:40 »
Listening again to Brun 2, it's obvious that the idiom is thoroughly permeated with Brahms, although, equally obviously, it is music from a later period. The difference in idiom between No.2 and No.3 is enormous. No.3 begins like some enormous stuttering juggernaut, full of angst and striving, but I can't say that the experience is all that interesting really - there's just far too much unrelieved gloom for me, and the lyrical passages simply go nowhere - and then they stop! And it's long - 61 minutes!

No, if it's to be music of a post-Brahmsian type, let it be Wilhelm Berger! His Symphony No.2 is both obviously indebted to the great Austro-German symphonic tradition and yet also thoroughly personal - and memorable.

petershott@btinternet.com

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #6 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 21:35 »
Argh, no desire to recreate the mini-fiasco we had about Olsen a few weeks ago, but I wonder if Alan is referring to the German Wilhelm Berger or the Swedish Wilhelm Peterson-Berger? Both are late 19th / early 20th century and thus post-Brahms.

From what I've read of the former, I guess the reference is to (plain) Wilhelm Berger. He appears a thoroughly deserving unsung (oops, of course I mean precisely the opposite!), but, alas, I've never heard a note of his. Are there available recordings, the appetite having already been sufficiently whetted?

As for Peterson-Berger, I've found all 5 symphonies (plus a glorious violin concerto) marvellous stuff. Impressive, often quite beautiful, and truly memorable. Yes, maybe a bit backward looking - but then so is the present writer. And neither is the worse for it!

And to get back in-thread, the contrast with poor old Brun is obvious. Peterson-Berger's music flows quite wonderfully. In comparison, and no offence intended to the memory of Brun, I cannot help wondering if Brun had severe problems with his digestion. It splutters, grunts, occasionally settles down to some serene episodes, and then either abruptly seizes up or snorts some more. But I must try that Symphony 2 about which folks seem more positive.

Peter

eschiss1

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #7 on: Friday 12 March 2010, 23:27 »
Re Wilhelm Berger: the recording I know about which seems more likely to still be available (?) is of his piano quintet, a 1994 recording on MDG.

There is another Wilhelm Berger, a Romanian composer, but I don't know of any CD recordings of his music. A violin concerto of his was recorded on LP.
"A cat, as I keep on saying, is also a cat for a' that..." - from Natsume Sōseki's Wagahai wa Neko de Aru (I Am a Cat, part 2 chapter 1)

Alan Howe

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #8 on: Saturday 13 March 2010, 09:45 »
I'm talking about the German Wilhem Berger (1861-1911). The PQ is one of the peaks of that genre and the 2nd Symphony is a quite wonderful and individual post-Brahmsian work, full of memorable themes, wonderful orchestration and surging power. Peterson-Berger is a much paler, less interesting composer....IMHO, of course!

Peter1953

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #9 on: Saturday 13 March 2010, 09:54 »
Alan, is Wilhelm Berger’s 2nd Symphony available on CD?
"Voyez mon ami, l'essentiel dans la musique c'est la mélodie" - Gioacchino Rossini

Alan Howe

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #10 on: Saturday 13 March 2010, 12:47 »
No, I have an off-air recording from around 1986.

Peter1953

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #11 on: Saturday 13 March 2010, 13:43 »
Thanks, Alan. This must be one of those many many unrecorded unsung gems. The only two works I have from Wilhelm Berger (opp. 94 & 95) are both very delightful pieces of chamber music.

I’ve listened to audio excerpts of all available symphonies by Brun (thank you, jpc). Of course it’s difficult, if not impossible, to say something reasonable if you have only heard a few seconds, but I think that if I should buy a CD (his 2nd sounds the most appealing to me) I’m not going to give it frequent listenings.
"Voyez mon ami, l'essentiel dans la musique c'est la mélodie" - Gioacchino Rossini

Alan Howe

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #12 on: Thursday 18 August 2011, 21:04 »
I decided to take the plunge and get into Brun's symphonies properly - Guild have now added Nos.6 and 7 to their recordings of 5, 9 and 10, so I ordered the lot! Thus my Brun quest has now begun in earnest with No.5 - and it's going to take some pretty concentrated listening, I think. It's pretty dark stuff, but the expressive power is certainly there. I could be changing my mind in favour of this composer, especially in Adriano's superb recordings made in Moscow.

semloh

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #13 on: Thursday 18 August 2011, 22:00 »
Alan, I would be interested to know how you get on as you listen to these....  I have so far been unable to discern a distinctive voice in his work; maybe I'm expecting too much or just need to listen more.

Alan Howe

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Re: Fritz Brun
« Reply #14 on: Thursday 18 August 2011, 22:59 »
The voice is a pretty dark one, I think - one that rarely emerges from the dense writing, if I can put it that way.