Symphonic Prologue to the Opera ‘Tiefland’/d’Albert
August 13, 2013
Eugen d’Albert (1864-1932) born in Glasgow was taught to play the piano, played for Liszt enjoyed much fame as a concert pianist throughout Europe and America. Like Anton Rubinstein, who he played for at the age of 15, his forte seemed to be performing classical works although in later years he published many operas, a symphony, two piano concertos and it was he who was responsible for editing Liszt’s Symphonic Tone Poems. He became part of the Liszt group and was nicknamed ‘Albertus Magnus.’ His personal life was a bit in shambles as he married six times and was the subject of much criticism.
While the featured work on this Naxos release #8.572805 is his single attempt at writing a symphony my ear perked up a notch or two when I heard the Symphonic Prologue. Written in 1924 twenty years after the opera was first performed, the piece an after thought has turned out to be an outstanding tone poem and certainly one that should be included in the repertoire of orchestras. Alas this is not the case and d’Albert and his work are in the seldom performed category.
The opening theme, performed by solo clarinet, sets a mood of a pastoral setting with peace and tranquility. As the orchestra makes its entrance the mood shifts to one of oriental mysticism, not unlike something that Borodin or Rimsky-Korsakov would have written. As the work develops further the orchestration style shifts to a Debussy style one could hear in La Mer although d’Albert shifts the melody to many different instruments and all sections of the orchestra are allowed to participate. The actual scene is one of two shepherds calling to each other with shepherd pipes high in the mountains with stars still being visible and a there is a heavy mist in the air. The proud majestic horns in forte signal the conclusion to the work to this beautiful scene depicted with music.
This is a composition to be further explored and one could compare this to the works of other well known composers. It should, without reservation on the part of this writer, to be performed on a regular basis but I fear that this will never happen in my lifetime.