Monday, September 21, 2009

Honegger, Swiss tone poet

Pick any article on tone poems (symphonic poems), and alsmost certainly it will include the name of Arthur Honegger (1892-1955). Yet, how many classical music lovers actually have these tone poems in their collection - or other works by this neglected Swiss grandmaster for that matter? Yet especially his symphonic output, including five excellent symphonies and four tone poems, is well worth hearing. This Naxos CD offers us the two most famous tone poems. The locomotive noise inspired Pacific 231 from 1923 is one of the essential examples of the genre. Less famous, but an interesting composition is Rugby (1928), which puts a sports game to music. The third composition on the disc is the more conventional Pastoral d'ete (Summer pastoral), dating from 1920. You will also get a glimpse of Honegger the symponist, courtecy of his Symphonie Liturgique (his third) from 1946. It reflects both the horrors of the war and the prospects of peace, a powerful piece. Exemplary performances by conductor Takuo Yuasa and ther New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in great sound. An absolute bargain.