graener symphony in d minor 001


Paul Graener (1872-1944) had no sooner received his British citizenship in 1909 when he relocated to Vienna with his wife and two children where he became acquainted with some of the leading musical figures including the head of the Universal Publishing house Emil Hertzka. Two years later he was offered the position of director of the Mozarteum in 1911 which made another move this time to Salzburg necessary. Excited by the opportunity Graener set out to make changes such as a preview before the performance and the result was a renewed interest. His symphony in d minor “Schmied Schmerz” (Sorrow the blacksmith) was the premiere work which he was able to conduct himself on February 14, 1912. The result was a huge success so much so he gave repeat performances. In addition the work featured original art work which enticed Bruno Cassirer’s firm to publish it. With nothing but good and positive why is this work today totally neglected as well as anything from this composer? Did the fact that Graener accepted a position with the Nazi party influence this lack of interest?

Composed in 1911 on Lake Fuschl in Salzkammergut this work was not dedicated to his lost son as many pieces were around this time of his life but the overall melancholy  permeates the first movement as one would except from a D minor symphony. The loss of his son weighed quite heavy on his heart but eventually blossomed Graener into becoming a better composer. The beginning, a larghetto, is strings only offering a melody which will be used in the first part of the movement as it is passed on to the clarinet, contrabassoon, trumpet, french horn, and finally a solo violin. The orchestra quiets to a ppp but is followed by a burst of agitated activity from the strings (allegro) followed by a calling from the brass who double tongue. This was a favorite technique from Bruckner and the symphony is scored for extra brass. The loud timpani beat signals the continuing of the main melody to a loud conclusion with gong and timpani. The second movement, an adagio, completely changes the mood of the work by an introduction of a new melody from the English Horn which is then passed on to the clarinet and continues to the strings. It is a spring like theme in a major key that is majestic and mournful. This adagio is one of the better ones I’ve heard. The third and last movement, an allegro energico in a major key mimics the anvil blows from the blacksmith. Graener does a fine job with this movement bringing the movement back around to where it began a larghetto. Repeated listens will enhance your enjoyment of this work.

From The Realm of Pan, op. 22 was a four movement piano piece written in 1906 while Graener was in London that was reorchestrated fourteen years later for orchestra. It depicts Pan in musical imagery, dance, and feelings. It opens with a melancholy (Graener says magical, silvery, twilight mood) theme. The second part like the first is also a slow tempo and one of reflection. In the third one can hear some of the influences that Debussy and perhaps Dukas had on him. The final movement is a majestic one with horns calling out and a solo cello leading to a fine conclusion. It is a fifteen minute work that deserves your attention.

Prinz Eugen, op. 108

A sixteen minute series of variations written in 1939 that was used by Goebbel’s before he gave his final speech. It has the sound and feel of a military piece with snare drum, brass calling out, troops marching, and just a general feel of victory in the air, likely exactly what he was told to write, propaganda, which he succeeded.

Paul Graener is a new discovery for me like I talked about in my first review of his orchestral material. This volume enhances my feelings further.

Track Listing:

1…. Symphony in D minor, op. 39 “Schmied Schmerz” (32:34)

4…. From the Realm of Pan, op. 22 (15:17)

8…. Prinz Eugen, op. 108 (16:06)

Total Time 64:21

PIT3080_largePIROUET PIT3080

Just when you think that you’ve heard everything there is in jazz, somebody comes up with something new in this case Seizer and his group and they play movie music but not just any movie music but soundtrack themes that you’d thought impossible. The theme from “Alien” was the first that got my attention. You remember that scary movie back in 1979 with Sigourney Weaver. It was an eerie suspense building theme that definitely got your attention as you sat in the darkened theater. Jerry Goldsmith hit a homerun with that one but I’m sure if he heard this pure jazz part melody, part improvisation he’d clap for an encore.

Born in Stuggart to a musical family he began playing the flute and recorder at the age of 4 winning classical music contests along the way. He continued his musical studies at the Hilversum Conservatory and then discovered John Coltrane at the age of 23 and has been playing ever since.

Seizer, now 50, has surrounded himself with young talent that compliment his playing. They consist of Pablo Held on piano, Matthias Pichter on bass, and  Fabian Arends on drums. They know what each other wants to do and they do so like a finely tuned machine. Take for example “Spartacus” as it opens with the delicate Bill Evan’s sound from Held with quiet bass lines and just a whisper of the cymbals preparing us for the entrance of the raspy but oh so mellow Seizer who seems to be in no hurry as his scales are distinct. Pichter is given a turn to display his talents with crisp positive strokes being supported by select harmony from the bass and percussion. He turns the song over to Seizer who completes the fine Alex North composition. The opening selection Carlotta’s Portrait from “Vertigo” begins with a steady somewhat relentess rhythm from the bass with the piano next being added both a prelude to the raspy but distinct line from the tenor sax. The entire track is simple uncomplicated but the three together make for an excellent track. If it was anymore laid back I might fall asleep? “On the Waterfront” opens with the tenor sax of Seizer complimented by percussion, piano chords, and bass. The original soundtrack and the after thought suite by Bernstein feature a trumpet but the tenor sax playing with a bit of Coltrane playing takes this to an entirely new concept. A favorite film of Jason’s is “The Deer Hunter” along with the Cavatina theme from Stanley Meyers. The arrangement is a soft smooth one with the piano and sax sharing time. You’ll be hard pressed or at least I was to recognize the “Jungle Book” theme which takes you to a new higher level in jazz. Seizer allows himself to soar and explore lines ascending and descending chords adding a quicker pace. Held is also allowed to run with chords and harmony which compliment the track. One of the lovelier themes from the pen of Morricone was “Cinema Paradiso” which Held gives a classical touch with Seltzer doing a bit of improv with a little bit of squeeking to grab your attention.

Although Seizer is new to me he has several CD’s to his credit and I look forward to more from him perhaps a volume two of film music that offers some film noir material. The sound recording is superb but there is an absence of no liner notes only pictures.




1. Carlotta’s Portrait · from »Vertigo« 1958 (3:13)
2. Cinema Paradiso · from »Cinema Paradiso« 1988 (7:49)
3. Steve’s Care · from »The Machinist« 2004 (6:39)
4. On The Waterfront · from »On the Waterfront« 1954 (4:30)
5. Cavatina · from »The Deer Hunter« 1978 (5:16)
6. Jungle Beat · from Walt Disney’s »The Jungle Book« (6:19)
7. Children’s Games · from »The Curious Case of Benjamin Button« 2008 (5:42)
8. Alien Main Theme · from »Alien« 1979 (6:03)
9. Spartacus Love Theme · from »Spartacus« 1960 (6:15)

Total time 51:51


 Entwürfe cpo-Cover 01-2015_cover.inddCPO 777 697-2


“For amongst the youngest our hope is for the preservation

of what their predecessors have created and for the

continuation of their works.”

Paul Graener 1923

If Paul Graener, composer, conductor, and pedagogue had been born fifty years earlier his work would have fit in so well I’m confident he would be far more popular today than the obscurity he is faced with today. Many classical people have no idea who he is. There is now available from CPO three volumes of his orchestral works, the review dealing with the third volume. There is little else available even though his opus numbers are over one hundred.

He was born in Berlin in 1872. Since his parents had passed away when he was very young he was raised by relatives. While he attended school at both Askanisches Gymnasium and Veitsches Konservatorium he failed to graduate from either as his goal seemed to be securing a position as a conductor which he finally secured in 1898 in London. It was in London where he met his wife and had three children, the oldest boy dying at eight years old, a most difficult time for Graener. He moved to Vienna and then Salzburg to acquire conducting positions. He finally returned to Munich and then Berlin eventually assuming a position with the Nazi party, keeping it until 1941. He passed away in November of 1944.

Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 72 (1925)

Graener structured this work in a FSF somewhat common in piano concertos. It had its premiere in Hagen in 1926 and was performed by a student of D’Albert. There are some who call this a symphony concerto as the piano is not the center of attention. What you won’t hear are long dense passages and showy cadenzas but a piano who assumes a prominent role and shares the melody with lush strings and effective woodwinds. The Andante second movement is a quiet reflective one where as in the first movement the piano is not overpowering but not in the background either. You get the feeling that you’re not listening to a piano concerto but a symphony concerto. Horns play a prominent role in the final movement, an Allegro which does show some piano technique, Rachmaninoff influenced. The end is a little showy with a nice brisk closing cadenza to end the movement. At a mere seventeen minutes this concerto could be what one movement could be from Tchaikovsky and Brahms.

Symphonietta, op. 27 (1905) 

Dedicated to his first son who had passed away the year before and written in his memory the work was based on his string quartet  “memoriam.” A poem by Ludwig Uhland from 1859 On the Death of a Child is a theme of the work. The work is scored for strings and features the harp.

You came, you went, with quiet footfall,

A fleeting guest in our Earth’s land:

Whither? Whence? All we know is this:

From God’s hand into God’s hand.

This adagio-allegretto amabile written for strings and harp begins with a Beethoven #6 type pastorale filled with not only a memorable melody, harmony and texture that will brighten any day. As the piece continues forward the mood switches to one of sadness with a solo violin offering comforting passages. The harp also has a nice offering.

Swedish Dances, op. 98 (1932)

Probably written as a result of a visit to Sweden in 1918 these three brief country dances named after the provinces of Lappland, Ostergoth, and Dalekarlien are written in an ABA style and are a joy to listen to. The first sends you back in time with a minuet style dance with a nicely developed theme. The second is in a similar vein to the first being slightly more energizing and also very pleasant. The third and final is quite majestic in nature. There is very nice harmony from the woodwinds.

Divertimento, op. 67 (1924)

Graener was one of the few composers in the 20th century to return to the divertimento that was popular with Mozart, Haydn, and others. They are light and very easy on the ears. This one is divided into five different pieces each one being roughly three minutes or so.

Allegro vivace- a bright major keyed  work lead by strings with harmony from woodwinds and brass. Allegretto scherzando  hints as being a fugue only to segue into a nice trumpet solo. Larghetto is a thought provoking piece with a bit of sadness. Un poco allegretto is very much a salon piece offering a melody in a laid back way. Allegro begins with majestic horns which lead to strings, a dominating timpani motif but overall it is the brass who dominate this track.

Alun Francis and the Munchner Rundfunkorchester perform the varied works with all the skill and emotions necessary to bring out the best in these works. A special hand should go to Oliver Triendl and his fine performance of the piano concerto or symphony concerto which ever you prefer.

Track Listing:


1.    Allegro moderato (6:56)

2.    Adagio (6:20)

3.    Allegro (4:29)


4.    Adagio-Allegretto amabile (19:54)


5.    Lappland (3:05)

6.    Ostergoth (2:14)

7.    Dalekarlien (2:14)


8.    Allegro vivace (3:23)

9.    Allegretto scherzando (2:30)

10.  Larghetto (3:35)

11.  Un poco allegretto (3:56)

12.  Allegro (5:04)

Total Time is 64:15

 Battle Music 1989 001

 Naxos 8.550230

Robert Volkmann (1815-1883) German composer was born in Saxony to a father who was a music director for a church. He had plans to prepare his son to take over position and as a result he learned to play organ, piano, violin, and cello. By the time he was twelve he was performing Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven in a string quartet. During his life he became friends with Lizst, Schumann, and Brahms later in his life. He went to Budapest in 1842 and except for four years in Vienna he spent the rest of his days there. His output as a composer was limited and many of his works were for piano. However he did gain some attention with his Piano Trio which was performed by Lizst and his Symphony No. 1 in d minor, although he was nearly fifty when he attempted it. Some of this could be attributed to a mental block undertaking a difficult task. Richard III was composed in 1870 one of his last works (68 of 71) and has some success if you measure it by the number of recordings. The last ten years of his life he did no composing which contributed to his lack of popularity.

Richard III was composed in 1870 and is considered to be a symphonic poem for a full orchestra, including a contra bassoon.Written in the key of F minor this work begins with a continuous note from the bassoon followed by another long note from the strings along with work from the timpani. This prelude (2+ minutes) leads us to a lovely melody from the oboe and flute which continues from the bassoon and clarinet. This melody seems out of place considering the overall dark nature of the work but it appears throughout the entire work. The battle section sounds like background music for a silent film (girl tied on the railroad tracks) slowly building to a rousing climax that is ended with the gong. Rising from the battle we hear a return to the original theme this time being played by the strings with harmony from the trombone.

If you like symphonic poems of this kind it will definitely to your liking. It can take its place on the shelf with the Hamlet Fantasy Overture and others. Nicely orchestrated this is an opportunity to explore one of our forgotten composers. The rest of the CD is filled with Lizst, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and Rimsky Korsakov.


Beethoven, Ludwig van

  Wellingtons Sieg oder Die Schlacht bei Vittoria, Op. 91, “Battle Symphony”, “Wellington’s Victory”
1. The Battle 00:08:15
2. Victory Symphony 00:06:42
  Two Marches for Military Band
3. March No. 1 00:01:29
4. March No. 2 00:01:52

Liszt, Franz

  Ungarischer Sturmmarsch, S119/R437
5. Ungarischer Sturmmarsch, S119/R437 00:04:50
  Hunnenschlacht, S105/R422
6. Hunnenschlacht, S105/R422 00:16:12

Ippolitov-Ivanov, Mikhail Mikhaylovich

  Iveria: Georgian War March
7. Georgian War March 00:05:02

Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolay Andreyevich

  The Golden Cockerel: King Dodon on the Battlefield
8. King Dodon on the Battlefield 00:04:27
  Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh: Massacre at Kerzhentz
9. Massacre at Kerzhentz 00:04:03

Volkmann, Friedrich Robert

  Richard III: Overture
10. Richard III: Overture 00:15:01

Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il’yich

  Mazeppa: The Battle at Poltava
11. The Battle at Poltava 00:05:54

Total Playing Time: 01:13:47



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Having just completed the review of Friederich Witt and his A major symphony on the new CPO release I’ll now review the works of  E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776-1822) which include a symphony and two operatic overtures. Born in Prussia to a barrister who had married his cousin Hoffmann was a man of many talents including the writing of the first detective story “Madame de Scudery” that Poe used as an aid for his “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” as well as “Fantasy, Irony, and the Grotesque.” His novella “Nutcracker and Mouse King” was the storyline for Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite.” In addition he was an artist, music critic, and jurist. His life was somewhat tubulent as he lived during the time of Napoleon and his wars. His life was shortened because of drinking and syphilis and the last year or two of his life he was papalyzed. He died in Berlin at the age of 46. An interesting point is it was Hoffmann the music critic who favorably reviewed two of Witt’s symphonies. They lived in nearby towns and while they never met they knew of each other. While he claimed an allegiance to Mozart to the point that the A in ETA stood for Amadeus his E flat major symphony is very Haydn patterned after the structure of the London symphonies of the late 18th century. He went so far to state in 1803 in his diary that Haydn was his master.

The Symphony in E flat major was written in the beginning of 1806 and premiered in Warsaw to honor the birthday of the King of Prussia on August 3rd of the same year. The symphony is in the four movement sonata form with the first movement being a majestic adagio with a nice introduction that leads you into a nice melody. Strings provide the vigorous melody (not adagio) and flute and woodwinds provide a quieter thought provoking time in between. I especially like the flute work and my ear has gotten use to what Hoffmann is trying to accomplish. The second movement is an andante con molto offers us a pastorale and tranquil setting. The theme is delicate and Hoffmann nicely bridges the three sections together with a recurring theme. The third movement is a very brief menuetto which opens with a brass statement which leads to a canon starting in a minor key and ending up in a major key. The final movement is an allegro molto that is quite brisk. It is filled with much harmony and counterpoint. Hoffmann uses the technique of bringing back a variation of the  theme from the first movement to tie the work together. It ends rather abruptly.

“Aurora” (1812) is considered to be one of the very first operas sung in German. To my knowledge this has never been performed and the overture is what remains. It is a tale of a princess and her love for a shephard boy. Patterned after Gluck it opens with a stoic and heroic statement from the brass which will continue throughout the eight minute work.

“Undine” (1814) was performed again for the birthday of the king of Prussia in 1816 and was well accepted receiving a positive review from Carl Maria von Weber. The storyline of this one is a knight who falls in love with a water nymph. The struggle between the minor and major key, the two characters, makes for an interesting listen.

If Hoffmann is new to you this is a CD that I can certainly recommend to you. As I stated in the Witt part of the review I do prefer the Naxos offering which is an all Witt program and includes his fine flute concerto.




Movie Score Media MMS 15004


Based on true events of the incident of the JASP “Flight 313” this thriller has a lot more to offer than just another coverup. The problem of “aerotoxic syndrome” has not gone away and while some steps have been taken this is a real flying threat. Tristan Loraine who produced, wrote, and directed the film has taken this film to a new level, fact not film is the name of the production company, and has set the film up as a coop situation consisting of unions and companies, over 100 of them. The positive reviews could bring this film to many regular theaters.

Moritz Schmittat, composer, has been working on films, shorts and commercials for many years. This is his 6th film but a first for MSM. He was educated at the Utrect School of Arts in Germany and did his post graduate work at the Royal College of Music in London. Using a combination of orchestra, synthesizers, electronic textures, guitars, percussion and samples he has created a unique sound that is easy to listen to and doesn’t have to resort loud blaring music that grinds on my ears. Instead he is able to create and underlying tension that permeates most of the tracks.

The first track “A Global Story” begins with a prayer by Algerian singer Khalad that quickly picks up tempo with a steady beat, a mixture of strings, guitars, and synthesizer with the prayer being in the background. It is quite a modern sound that grabs your attention and sets the table for the film. “Captain David Morris” takes a break from the tension and offers a funeral tempo featuring Macedonian singer Aleksandra Popovska with her wordless singing to this religious track. I’m including this as an audio clip to give you an idea of what some of this score is about. The strings provide harmony for the background. “A Dark Reflection,” the final track, is one of those reflective tracks that offers a theme from strings with harmony from lower strings and additional support from the piano who offers simple chords to  offer the somber mood. Many of the tracks are minor keyed where Moritz uses his strings for a sense of timing. I like the use of the clarinet in tracks such as “Stealing Data,” as well as the percussion to increase the tension even more with the semi frantic strings.

If your anything like this reviewer you’ll walk away from this soundtrack with mixed emotions ranging from sadness to tension. I love the arranging style that Moritz uses to achieve an effective score as the material is classical sounding with a mixture of modern techniques mixed in. The clarinet twitters though well in the background got my attention as an example. You won’t hear a lot of brass but you’ll walk away with a feeling of satisfaction. It is clear that his music training pays off for this score. Will look forward to hearing more from this composer.  When you’re downloading take the time to check out some of the other titles that MSM has to offer. They provide a voice to so many composers getting a start in the industry.


1 A Global Story 6:42
2 Investigative Journalism 2:03
3 Not Ruthless Enough 1:24
4 Unquestioning Loyalty 2:21
5 Captain David Morris 2:14
6 A Near Miss 1:10
7 The Mission Had To Come First 1:42
8 Helen Eastman Under Surveillance 1:50
9 Stealing Data 2:45
10 Video Message 2:14
11 GPS Tracker 1:59
12 Doubts 2:55
13 Airport Security 1:33
14 Sick Aircrew 3:29
15 Boarding 1:55
16 Taking the Sample 1:05
17 Laboratory 1:57
18 The Power of the Media 2:02
19 International Aviation Conference 1:16
20 CEO 1:51
21 A Dark Reflection 3:50

Jessabelle/Antone Sanko

March 1, 2015

jessabelle 001

LLLCD 1312 La La Land


Underwater Transformation

Released in November of 2014, “Jessabelle” is a horror movie starring the quite busy Sarah Snook who after a serious car accident returns to the bayou in Louisiana where she discovers through older VHS tapes made by her mother, who is into the occult and tarot card reading, a disturbed spirit who is after  her. The film costars David Andrew, Joelle Carter, and Mark Webber and is directed by Kevin Greutert of Saw fame. It only had a limited release to theaters and went straight to VOD.

Antone Sanko has been composing for the last 20 years doing films such as “Part Girl,” “Masters of Horror,” “The Last Winter,” and “Possessed.” The score was orchestrated and conducted by Joachim Horsley, additional music by the mixer Joe Thompson and electronic texturing by Peter Freeman. What you’ll hear on this CD is a variety of different sounds including some string work, solo piano bars, voodoo chanting, electronics, electronics mixed with small orchestra. There is no real main theme that stands out or is repeated. It wants to such as a few bars toward the end of the first track or something of a theme played by the percussion with strings in harmony. Sanko or the editor uses a select note or sound to perhaps draw your attention for a brief moment or adding a little depth to the sound. As I listen I hear a lot of chords that just seem to go nowhere. Having not seen the film it is impossible for me to comment on how it works in the film but I have an idea that it all works fine. I’m including the audio clip of underwater transformation to give you a feeling of what the score is like. There is no over the top shrieking or booming bass or timpaini. It all seems to fit nicely in a listenable dynamic range. I’m sure that fans of the film will like the score and want to have it in there growing horror collection of material.

Track listing

1. Weirdest Dream/Searching Through Drawers (04:04)
2. Apparition/Moses/What’s Mine (02:24)
3. Home Movies (03:20)
4. Jessie’s Dream (02:12)
5. Boat Ride (03:24)
6. Torches (02:45)
7. Second Reading (02:39)
8. Can’t Stay Here/Bed Time/Bad Dreams (03:43)
9. Hi Mom/Open The Gate (05:14)
10. Mrs. Davis/Moses Shrine/Sweet Moment (05:08)
11. Scary Movie (02:26)
12. Underwater Transformation (02:51)

Total Duration: 00:40:10