11 March 2009

It's Scherchen-o-rama on this week's episode: the renowned German-Swiss Hermann Scherchen (1891-1966) in the double role of conductor and arranger.

Set #1 - 8:00am - 9:30am

1. Ludwig van Beethoven: 2nd movement: Allegretto from Symphony No.7 (1811-12)
Arranged for winds (1816)
André Moisan - conductor, Les Vents de Montréal
ATMA, ACD2 3004

2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Rehearsal of Symphony No.5 (1805-08)
(Scherchen wrote the book on conducting. It is said he "worked largely through verbal instructions to his players and his scores were peppered with reminders of what he needed to say at each critical point in the music.")

3. Ludwig van Beethoven: Performance of Symphony No.5 (1805-08)
(Scherchen said: "Music does not have to be understood. It has to be listened to.")

Tracks 2-3 (rec. Lugano, Switzerland 24-26 Feb. 1965)
Hermann Scherchen - conductor, Orchestra della Radio Televisione della Svizzera Italiana
Hermann Scherchen prova e dirige Beethoven: Sinfonia N. 5
Ermitage, ERM 126

Set #2 - 9:30am - 11:00am

4. J. S. Bach: Art of the Fugue (1742)
Orchestrated by Hermann Scherchen (1965)
Hermann Scherchen - conductor, Members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra & Vienna Radio Orchestra
Universal, MCAD2-80352
(Are you ready for an hour and a half of D minor? Scored for just winds and strings, and solo harpsichord in the three canonic movements, Scherchen's spare orchestration calls no undue attention to itself. The fugue subject is not the most interesting melody Bach ever conceived, but it's put through its paces, to the extent that Da-Vinci-Code-esque speculations have arisen concerning hidden symbols and meanings. Bach's leaving this work unfinished delivers a certain existential satisfaction.)

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