1927 in Music

1. Karl Amadeus Hartmann: Sonata No.1 for Unaccompanied Violin (10/10)

The first violin sonata is just downright bonkers. Flirting with the recent tonal revolution in its movement – which is like being slapped in the face compared to some of the other sonatas of its time – and it settles down a lot in the subsequent middle movements but that doesn’t make it any less striking. A wonderful blend of old and new.

 

1. Karl Amadeus Hartmann: Sonata No. 2 for Unaccompanied Violin (10/10)

The second sonata might be the equal of the first. Like his “funeral” concerto, it starts out lulling you into believing this is a traditional work but this time, unlike the concerto, it takes off in a matter of seconds into this strange world Hartmann’s music inhabits, where everything teeters on the edge but never goes over. (Or rarely.)

 

3. Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra: “Sensation” (10/10)

“Sensation” starts as a ballad, but it’s a trick! That must have gone over well live. The rest of it is less interesting but the backing
parts are sounding more and more like conventional big band.

 

4. Karl Amadeus Hartmann: “Suite No. 1 for Unaccompanied Violin” (9/10)

The first of the suites for solo violin seems at least a little inspired by Bach but its tonal palette, for lack of a better word, is so much more “modern”. It uses the full range of the instrument. Oh, and the fugue in particular is really neat. Actually, so is the rondo.

 

5. Karl Amadeus Hartmann: “Suite No. 2 for Unaccompanied Violin” (9/10)

The second suite for solo violin is a lot more subtle than the first and I might even use the world “pastoral” to describe one of the movements. It gets a lot more strident as it goes on and the finale in particular is neat.

 

6. Leos Janacek: Glagolitic Mass [Original Version] (9/10)

The setting for the Glagolitic Mass (i.e. the Mass is in old Slavic) is a great, bombastic thing. This is the original version, which is apparently performed less frequently. I always find masses the most dense of orchestral music and have a hard time digesting them in just three listens, but this thing just pulsates with seemingly radical ideas – certainly radical for church music. It’s among the cooler 20th century masses I’ve heard (though I haven’t heard many).

 

7. Paul Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 7, op. 46 no. 2 (9/10)

The 8th and final Kammermusik is a concerto for organ. The organ was long ignored/disrespected among Romantic composers and this is likely one of the modernist works that helped bring it back into vogue.
Like the other concertos in this series, this one has a great opening that sounds like the “classical” equivalent of dixieland, everything going everywhere all at once. Then the organ chimes in and things get a little bit more normal.
A pretty major work for the organ, I think.

 

8. Paul Hindemith: Kammermusik No. 6, op. 46 (8/10)

The 7th Kammermusik is a concerto for a baroque version of the viola, with more strings. Like many of Hindemith’s concertos, there are parts for other solo instruments, which is something that used to be unusual.
Again, he aggressively plays with classical conventions in ways that manage to be both avant garde and accessible. It’s a little less appealing to me than the earlier viola concerto, because I feel like he’s done it before, but the use of the baroque version of the viola is neat.

 

9. Gustav Holst: “Egdon Heath” Op. 47 (8/10)

This is apparently one of his most famous works. It’s a programmic tone poem, something that was very in vogue in the decades before he wrote it. I don’t mind a decent tone poem, and this is a pretty good example. On the other hand, if this is the best thing he ever wrote (and apparently he believed that) then I need to stop listening to so much of his music…That might sound harsh, but I just find Holst to be too traditional for my tastes a lot of the time.
It’s good stuff, but it’s hardly among the best tone poems I’ve heard, and I’m hard pressed to laud it too much.

 

10. Fletcher Henderson and His Orchestra: “Livery Stable Blues” (8/10)

“Livery Stable Blues” is one of the oldest jazz songs there is. I still haven’t managed to hear the original yet so I have no idea how this compares to it – beyond the size of the band being something like 2.5 times the size. The song certainly sounds relatively primitive compared to other tracks on the compilation I listened to it on.

 

11. Leos Janacek: “Andante” (7/10)

The “Andante” is a brief little haunting melody. It’s appealing.

 

12. Gustav Holst: “The Morning of the Year” Op. 45 (6/10)

This is a brief ballet, with the music oddly augmented by a choir. (As was the other ballet from this opus. So…) However, on the compilation I listed to it on, it is presented without the choir, for reasons that are obscure. It’s interesting piece of music (jaunty and full of percussion) but, like all of Holst’s music, it feels behind the times.

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