Wednesday, 25 January 2012

A warm welcome for world-premiere Zappa SA-CD

International media response Zappa SA-CD positive

Conductor Simon Murphy and The New Dutch Academy's new Super Audio CD has been met with great enthusiasm from the Dutch and international media since its international release in November 2009.

Featuring world première recordings of newly re-discovered works from The Netherlands' own symphonic tradition at the glittering 18th century court of Orange in The Hague, the recording presents an array of Dutch musical crown jewels by composers active at the 18th c. Dutch court – Symphonies by C.E. Graaf, Schwindl, C. Stamitz and F. Zappa (Cello Symphonies). This music was rediscovered by Simon Murphy and the NDA's own Research Lab in a seven year long, international research project leading up to the recording of this new disc.

This new, landmark recording - the NDA's 5th CD - is the first recording ever to offer a panoramic view of the symphony at the cosmopolitan and highly culturally engaged 18th century Dutch court in The Hague. The disc follows on the heels of the NDA's previous CD, which created a furore, successfully presenting the symphonies of the 18th century Amsterdam composer Joseph Schmitt (“The Dutch Haydn”) to the world for the first time.

The disc (PentaTone Classics PTC 5186 365) "Crowning Glory – Zappa Symphonies" (The Netherlands' Musical Heritage – The Symphony at the 18th century Court of Orange in The Hague), is available worldwide, with distribution in 45 countries.

What the critics say:

"The other Zappa ... A fascinating view of the rich musical traditions of The Hague ... brilliant performances ... wonderful orchestral sound of the NDA" Klassieke Zaken

"18th century rock 'n roll ... a total eyeopener" Haagsche Courant

"swinging and persuasive!" Het Parool

"Different Time ... Different Place ... Different Zappa ... Same Excitement!" Pop Matters (U.S.)

"Simon Murphy and the New Dutch Academy clean up big time with the works of Christian Ernst Graaf (individual), Carl Stamitz (electrifying) and W.A. Mozart ... Murphy creates an earthy energy with funky rhythms and fine articulation. The performances of the [Zappa] cello solos by Caroline Kang and the Mozart concert aria by soprano Elizabeth Dobbin are particularly distinguished. Beautifully recorded." De Volkskrant

"When it comes to the subject of Crown Jewels, the Dutch can definitely hold their own with the British. The New Dutch Academy presents a musical exhibition of seven high-carat examples from the Classical epoch, including two totally stunning new masterworks. Under no circumstances should one miss this!" Deutschlandradio Kultur (CD of the Week, November 2009)

The repertoire-refresher, conductor Simon Murphy is certainly not lacking in humour. “Zappa Symphonies”!? ... It is indeed another Zappa, Francesco (fl. 1763 – 1788), who is reborn through this rich anthology CD of first recordings of works from the court of the Prince of Orange, William the 5th in The Hague. The disc presents cosmopolitan works by musicians and musical visitors to the court of William V – veritable musical Crown Jewels.

The album radiates joie de vivre, bursting immediately open with a lively symphony by Graaf - a work in the Sturm und Drang spirit, with celebratory trumpets and drums. Schwindl’s animated symphony [in D] is laden with a similarly contagious élan, particularly in the most effervescent string figurations in the Presto finale. In the works by Zappa selected by Murphy for the disc, the composer shows himself to also a firm disciple of the classical school, but technically more demanding. His style displays a certain melodic charm: the central Largo assai of the Cello Symphony (Caroline Kang, cello) could have easily been a cantilena from an opera. The two outside movements, with their seductively solo-woodwind parts, embrace the Largo as a jewel box would encase its treasures. Zappa’s other symphony is more robust in the outer movements, but its Largo also makes room for a superb cello solo. The Stamitz symphony [in C], suggestive of a most celebratory crowning, is developed, complex and rich with expressive shadings with an enlivening and rejuvenating bouquet that makes it – in the words of Murphy – indeed a most attractive work.

Murphy’s interpretation of these works distinguishes itself by its enthusiasm; his approach possesses a classic élan but without any stiffness or dryness, and displays a delicate sensitivity in the Andantes and Largos. 5 Stars! Diapason (France)

"This is a splendid concert, brimming with vigorous rhythms and varied orchestral colours, played with impeccable ensemble and élan by the NDA. Strongly Recommended!

No, not THAT Frank Zappa, but Francesco Zappa (fl.1763-1788). He was one of a coterie of musicians attracted to the employ of Wilhelm V and his mother, Princess Anna van Hannover at The Hague in its Golden Age, now unearthed by the indefatigable Simon Murphy, conductor of the New Dutch Academy Orchestra. This disc must have one of the longest titles in recording history; its full title is: "World Première Recording - Crowning Glory - The Musical Heritage of the Netherlands. Dutch Crown Jewels: Symphonies from the 18th Century Court of Orange in The Hague". That says it all.

Music flourished in The Hague under Wilhelm; the monarch and his family were connoisseurs (Princess Anna was a former student of Handel's), and the city also was a notable centre for music printing and publication and thus doubly attractive to composers. ... A developing Classical orchestra [in the 18th century] of strings, flutes, oboes and horns (sometimes also trumpets and drums) offered composers opportunities to invent fashionable and exciting new "Special Effects". Much of this development took place at the Mannheim Court, under Johann Stamitz, Carl Stamitz and Franz Xaver Richter, whose early symphonies already featured by Simon Murphy in albums with the NDA (Stamitz/Richter: Early String Symphonies - New Dutch Academy/Murphy, The Mannheim Project, Volume 2 – Murphy). ... The Mannheim techniques of building up layers of rich sounds spread to the rest of Europe, as did their full orchestral crescendos and diminuendos. Gestures known as the 'Mannheim Rocket' and 'Mannheim Sigh' were also much in vogue and quickly found their way to The Hague.

Murphy has compiled a diverting and entertaining programme of music created for the Court of Orange, presented here by the period instruments of the New Dutch Academy, who play with zestful energy and poetic grace. Most of the symphonic movements last between one and a half to three and a half minutes, so wandering concentration [in the listener] is not an issue. Indeed, [the works] seem to pack in a great deal of material in concentrated form. ... The opening Graff symphony is ablaze with trumpets and drums, all bustling orchestration, relieved by a delectable tip-toe slow dance for the middle movement, where the tangy harpsichord continuo is heard. Its Presto finale comes out of the speakers like a terrier snapping at your heels.

The two recently discovered symphonies by Zappa, a fine cellist, teacher and composer, show a remarkable excursion from galant formal conventions by having an extensive and introspective solo for cello in each of their slow movements. The soloist is sometimes accompanied, sometimes muses alone in extended recitative or cadenza-like passages. Soulfully played by Caroline Kang, these meditative oases are an utter delight. ...

A chance to gaze through a window in time at the entertainments supplied for The Hague's nobility, resulting from dedicated scholarly research which is nicely summarized in the well-illustrated booklet." SA-CD (Five Stars)

"With works by Zappa and others, this CD presents an anthology of pieces which were once written to be enjoyed at the court of Willem V, Prince of Orange in The Hague.

Belonging to the classical style, the works resonate with the musical aesthetic of Haydn and Mozart. Simon Murphy, conductor of the New Dutch Academy, compares them with ‘Rock and Roll of our time’ … these pieces are clearly a breakthrough and full of life … The CD presents two works of Zappa as a premiere.

The musicians of the NDA display an exceptional rigour on their authentic instruments and gut strings, delivering very fine performances of these lesser known pieces.

Extremely enjoyable to listen to in itself, the disc also allow us to expand our knowledge of the gold mine that is the music of the 18th century; this recording proves that, other than the obvious Mozarts and Haydns, there are many other composers of great value from this period. Diverdi (Spain)

Listen to the CD

Read more about conductor Simon Murphy on: www.simonmurphyconductor.com

Listen to the CD on the NDA's site: http://www.newdutchacademy.nl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4:newcd&catid=37:cds&Itemid=22

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