List of my music reviews for music published in 1907.
1. Alexander Scriabin: Piano Sonata No. 5 Op. 53 (10/10)
Scriabin’s fifth sonata is something else – it’s a daring, difficult work. It’s note quite as radical tonally as Schoenberg’s stuff from the same period (to my ears), but it’s possibly more radical in form, and it’s just as compelling. Really, really great.
2. Claude Debussy: Images Book 2 (10/10)
The second book could I guess come off as a little less path-breaking or what have you but they find Debussy taking his ideas from the first book and merging them with the really place-specific sound images of the Estampes to I think great effect. If anything he’s doubling-down on the idea of specific impressions as opposed to musical progression. In addition, they’re pretty.
3. Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52 (9/10)
I read that this symphony marks a huge growth in Sibelius’ development as a composer. I find that a little hard to hear for some reason. I like the symphony, but not as much as the earlier ones or the later ones. Perhaps because it’s transitional.
That second movement is so pretty though, that I forget the impression that it doesn’t seem quite as bold.
4. Frederick Delius: Brigg Fair: An English Rhapsody (8/10)
I think Delius worked best when he had good inspiration. Too often his inspiration was just “pleasant summer (or spring) feeling” and so the listener is left with an idyll for a time they never knew except from watching stuffy English period dramas. (Really, every British chamber drama set in the late Victorian age should be set to Delius.)
But when the inspiration is a city, Delius comes alive. And it’s true here, too, where the inspiration is a folk song and its choral arrangement by Percy Grainger. The opening is typical pastoral Delius, but with much more mystery than he can usually conjure. But the piece builds with momentum as he runs through the variations and we get excitement and joy and things one does not normally associate with Delius.
It’s not earth-shattering, but it’s a lot better than some of his “pleasant” tone poems.
5. Frederick Delius: “Cynara” [completed 1929] (7/10)
This was supposed to included in a set of songs but was abandoned because he thought it didn’t fit with the other music. It was completed in 1929 but I have included it here because he added only the teeniest bit of music then, to my knowledge.
Basically it’s Delius’ usual pastoral shtick plus a baritone voice. It’s a little more interesting than that, actually, but it’s still very much the usual stuff for him.
6. Gustav Holst: “A Somerset Rhapsody” Op. 21 (7/10)
The rhapsody lives up to its name, but it’s like so much of Holst’s work – it sounds like he composed it in a different century.
7. Gustav Holst: “The Heart Worships” (6/10)
This is a standalone song, and it’s fine, I guess. It’s not really anything that I would go out of my way to listen to, though.
8. Erik Satie: Nouvelles pièces froides (6/10)
Sequels to a work sequenced further on in the Complete Piano Works, these are another product of Satie attending some music school and having foreign ideas inserted into his work. (Not foreign as in not-French, but foreign to Satie.) Apparently some of his friends did not like these and that’s why they weren’t published. There is some suggestion that Satie was having a little fun, both trying to fit in and also trying to mock what he was being asked to do.