Bobby and Hans
ESSAYS AND FEATURES
January 2013- Explore the Score- Schumann Symphony in D minor Schumann’s D minor Symphony embodies some of the most original, influential and innovative approaches to symphonic form in all 19th century music. Find out how this amazing piece works.
June 2012- Explore the Score- Bobby Schumann busts out the Klangfarbenmelodie A special post celebrating the composer’s 202nd birthday exploring Schumanns revolutionary writing for the orchestra, and how his orchestration and his composition are inseparable.
March 2012- Ken’s guest blog for Gramophone Magazine: Bobby and Hans are “more than meets the eye” composers. “Gál 4 is the culmination of seven decades’ practice in writing counterpoint, Schumann 2 the result of seven months of total immersion, but the end result is similarly spectacular: music in which each individual part leaps off the page, imbued with its own impetus and character, yet totally integrated with everything around it.”
January 2012- Hans Gal, the lost interview. ”This is why there is no music for me without form, a clear design, and form is not a ready-made mould but a pattern of events that has to be found individually for every individual work, a pattern resulting from the thematic content and its peculiar conditions. So there is every time a new problem to be solved with patience and with the combination of intuitive feeling and critical awareness without which no artistic achievement is possible.”
December 2011- Explore the score: Hans Gal Symphony no. 4 “Sinfonia Concertante.” Gal’s last symphony is an intimate and personal summation of his lifelong fascination with extending the chamber music aesthetic to all genres. It is perhaps the great “Classical” symphony of the modern era, deeply connected to the music of Haydn and Mozart.
December 2011:Explore the score: Schumann Symphony no. 2. Schumann’s greatest and most personal symphony is rich with quotes, ciphers and codes. Discover the secrets of the musical DNA of one of the greatest symphonies ever written.
November 2011: Why Bobby and Hans? Ever wonder how the music of two different composers ends up on the same disc? Is it all just part of a ruthless scheme to maximize profit, or is it all about context? Ken takes readers behind the scenes of the record industry with a hard look at what it takes to make a record in the modern age.
July 2011- Audio review on NPR’s All Things Considered: “The Austrian-born composer Hans Gal has been way off the radar screen until just recently. His Symphony No. 3 languished unplayed for 55 years. Like so many European composers, Gal had to flee the Nazis, eventually landing in Scotland. So hats off to conductor Kenneth Woods and his Orchestra of the Swan who have been making a case for Gal’s elegantly built orchestral pieces which look back fondly to the German romantic era of Schumann, Brahms and Richard Strauss. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a substantial Gal revival.”
July 2011- Hans Gal’s time in the British internment camps during World War II. “In all about 27,000 ‘enemy aliens’ (including Gal) were interned, including Jewish refugees, the group who, ironically, had the most reason to be on the side of the allies against Nazi Germany. The policy was, of course, motivated by the desire to control potentially dangerous enemies, but that it affected not just genuine Nazis but also those who were fleeing from them, and indeed incarcerated both together indiscriminately”
July 2011- Ken talks with Recordings Editor Phil Sommerich at Classical Music Magazine about recording Gal, Schumann and Mahler. “Few people would list Hans Gal and Robert Schumann as among classical music’s humorists, but conductor Kenneth Woods does…”
June 2011-Interview with Ken at The Classical Review by Colin Anderson. ”In Gál, nostalgia is part of how we come to terms with loss. Gál’s four symphonies make a nice overview of his creative life, from the tangy post-Romantic harmonies in his First to the slightly more disciplined language of the Third, to the gentler and more austere world of his late style in the Fourth.”
June 2011- Composer Kenneth Leighton on Hans Gal.
January 2011- Classical Music Magazine profile: “Me and My Gal.” Ken chats with Classical Music Magazine’s recordings editor, Phil Sommerich about the Bobby and Hans project
December 2010- Recording Bobby and Hans Part III. ”The concert. Next up was Gál. My colleague, David Curtis, had suggested we introduce the symphony by having the orchestra play some excerpts from the piece. I thought this was a great idea since it would be new to everyone there. I talked a little about the history of the piece, and then introduced what I called the “dramatis personae” of the work, with the orchestra playing some of the main themes. As I wound up my talk and got ready to start the performance, the import of the moment really struck me. I suppose with such an immersion in the recording process, I’d almost forgotten that this was the historic moment- the first performance of a Gál symphony in Britain in 35 years, and the first performance of this piece in 55. Gál’s daughter, Eva, was there.”
December 2010- Recording Bobby and Hans Part II. ”After lunch, we all returned for the last session before the concert. We needed to finish the 1stmovement of the Gál, record the 2nd movement complete, finish the Finale of the Schumann and record the 2nd and 3rd movements complete. It was a formidable challenge- based on the speed we had made in the movements recorded so far (fast by any measure) there was a very real possibility that we would run out of time or have to let things slide. Fortunately, the orchestra, who had already been playing flat out for 12 of the last 20 hours or so, simply upped their game. We finished the recapitulation and coda of the Gál in less than 30 minutes.”
December 2010- Recording Bobby and Hans, part I. ”After musicianship, time management is about as important a skill as any conductor can have, but especially so when recording. Unlike rock, when you can keep working until in the studio until you get everything just right, with an orchestra, time is 100% finite. If you can’t get everything recorded in the time alloted, the disc doesn’t come out. However, time is not the only thing that is finite in a recording session- energy, focus, and especially what we call “chops” are too. If a wind player gives too much too early in a session (brass players and double-reed players are particularly at risk), it may not matter that you have another hour of recording time left. If a principal wind player conks, there may not be much you can get down on tape to a reasonable standard in a session.”
December 2010- Explore the score: Schumann Symphony no. 3. A longer version of the CD liner notes, illustrated with musical examples.
December 2010- Explore the score Gal Symphony no. 3. A longer version of the CD liner notes, illustrated with excerpts from Hans Gal’s own world-premiere performance with the Vienna Radio Symphony in 1955.
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