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Magnard - The Four Symphonies
Albéric Magnard really is the great so-far-undiscovered master of French music. Born in 1865 (the same year as Sibelius, Nielsen and Glazunov), the son of the managing editor of Le Figaro, his reticent personality prevented him from courting fame or even performances of his music. But he wrote two operas, chamber music, and four wonderful symphonies unsurpassed by any other French composer of his time. His end was tragic: in 1914, defending his estate in Normandy, he was shot dead by German soldiers who then burned his house down, destroying many manuscripts (including one of the operas mentioned above which is now lost for ever). His four-movement symphonies are substantial in length, cyclic in character, serious, attractively scored, slightly melancholic, and well worth getting to know.
‘An absorbing musical encounter that should spawn its fair share of Magnard converts’ (The Independent)
‘C’est magnifique. Pick of the Month’ (BBC Music Magazine)
‘The works are insinuating. I keep wanting to come back for more. Another Hyperion success’ (Classic CD)
‘A set of performances which brings this music alive in a way that it can rarely have enjoyed since its composition. Something of a discovery then, which will hopefully lead to a further interest in an endlessly fascinating composer’ (Hi-Fi News)
‘These albums compel the highest recommendation’ (Fanfare, USA)
‘Superb performances by Ossonce and his Scottish players’ (American Record Guide)
“there is a quiet and distinctive personality here, and dignity too. The superb Hyperion set of these four symphonies, neatly fitting onto two inexpensive CDs, easily outshines earlier rivals, with warm, cleanly focused sound.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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Magnard - Complete Symphonies
Magnard himself was was a withdrawn, austere misanthrope, much of whose music was lost in 1914 when the Germans killed him and set fire to his mansion after he had shot two of their calvary in a somewhat characteristic act of futile resistance. The best of what survives are grandly noble symphonies and a string quartet, in a strong and sinewy but richly lyrical idiom which often reveals its roots in Magnard's teacher d'Indy and in Wagner, a hearing of whose Tristan had determined him to give up law for music. These are powerful, compelling, expansive works which make an original accommodation between rustic impulse and sophisticated symphonic structure.
“Where Sanderling scores is in the long lyrical tunes which, as in the Scherzo of the Second Symphony, you feel the severe Magnard is allowing himself to write, as it were, under the bedclothes with a torch -
this tune, in particular, shaped by Sanderling with great feeling and dynamic range.” Gramophone Magazine
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