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  New Classical Adventure -
  Herbeck: Symphony No. 4 - Haselböck
  Johann von Herbeck: Symphony No. 4 in D minor "Organ Symphony", Symphonic Variations in F major

Hamburger Symphoniker
Martin Haselböck (Haselbock)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 4

Reviews: 3

Review by Peter November 14, 2006 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
NCA - Johann von Herbeck: Symphony No. 4 in D minor "Organ Symphony", Symphonic Variations in F major

I was initially extremely disappointed by this music. My first reactions were:

"This SACD comes with a lovely booklet in a digipack, full of interesting information, excellent illustrations, some in colour."

I haven't bought many recordings over the years, certainly CDs since 1983, that have been of little value as music and performance. This one is an exception. Although the symphony was a pioneer in including an organ, and has a prelude for the 1st movement and a fugue for the 4th, with an andante and scherzo for the filling in the sandwich, it is no more than an academic exercise in harmony and counterpoint. It's quite sweet, particularly in the outer movements' homage to Bach, but it really ought to have been left in the vault; I get the feeling that if there is an afterlife, Herbeck would be surprised and disappointed, if not embarrassed by its resurrection. The variations for orchestra are even worse, an insipid Brahms; I couldn't wait for the last track to finish.

I'm quite a fan of good second rate composers (Stanford, Parry, Rheinberger, Lloyd, for example) but, alas, Herbeck, for all his considerable achievements in Vienna's musical life, is nowhere near this league. Had I had to guess the composer on a blind listening, my money would have been on Ouseley.

The performances are reverential to the point of parody, and, as Roger Nichols wrote in this month's Gramophone, at this stage in the proceedings there really is no point commenting on the recording quality, whatever standard it may be."

Oh dear. I'm embarrassed. Second impressions have been rather more favourable; I must not have been in the mood, as they say, to appreciate the impression of homage to Bach and Brahms in these compositions, and, certainly, the symphony's first and fourth movements are worth hearing separately in the same vein as a Stokowski Bach transcription, or Marx's much later Alt-Wiener Serenaden, Partita In Modo Antico or Sinfonia In Modo Classico (ASV).

The music is undemanding, and when treated as such, can be pleasantly relaxing. I had hoped for something of at least the quality of Stanford's Concert Piece for Organ and orchestra, another hit like Saint-Saens 3 being far too much to expect.

The Hamburger Symphoniker play well enough, though the upper strings seem to number too few, and the recording, in stereo, sounds full-bodied. The organ sound isn't much to write home about, and, surprisingly, there is no specification of the organ in the otherwise very informative booklet.

Will your record collection suffer from an unsightly hole if you do not buy this disc? Sadly, I don't really think so.

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Review by raffells February 25, 2006 (3 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I notice that no one has posted a review on this oddity.Peter wrote an excellent description of it and I can only say his write up would be exactly my opinion,so I dont want to claim credit for repeating or reposting his comments /Difficult to describe as pieces of music other that say Its pleasant background listening music and I doubt if I could recognize the composer even if I was given a long listen and only a few names to choose from...This should not discourage anyone from buying it though. Its pleasant , well played and well recorded.It also seems overly long..comes in a booklet type presentation.
It might be good disc for for spot the original composers or styles these changes happen in both works quite a bit.A real curiousity disc.More a symphony with organ ?
Shortly after I had written this review I replayed it again (bit like a dog with a bone)and I think I have nearly caught up with Peter on understanding the works.Howabout Brahms Academicic Festival Overture with an Organ thrown in and his Haydns Variations but substitute Handel theme./though I cannot honestly find a genuine Brahms tune in there.Herbeck did in fact follow Brahms into a conducting post and I wondered had he picked up a work in progress manuscript left behind.This cannot be a bad thing..
The Symphonic Variations tracks 5.Theme Andante.6 Serenata.7 Allegro Moderato.8 Canzonetta.9 Allegretto.10 same tenuto. 11 Adagio/ 12 Scherzino 13 Andante 14 Scherxo.15 Praeludium 16 Finale.Allegro etc. tells you a lot.

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Review by JJ May 8, 2009 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Released here for the first time on disc, these two works are by a talented composer, but one whom history has barely noticed. Johann von Herbeck (1831-1877) was nonetheless an integral part of the musical life of his time, as Wolfgang Doebel remarks in his introductory text: “Herbeck directed the first performance of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony on December 17, 1865. He also included Schubert’s Masses in the court chapel repertory, and in 1865 published the first complete edition of Schubert’s choruses. A friend of Franz Liszt, Herbeck stood up for Wagner and Verdi at the court opera, supported Goldmark, and it was through his intervention that the organist at the Linz cathedral, Anton Bruckner, obtained the position of organist at the Vienna court in 1868.” Author of around sixty works for male chorus, choral songs, seven masses, stage music and four symphonies, Johann von Herbeck died just after turning 45. Conductor and organist Martin Haselböck, who has released a remarkable complete set of Franz Liszt’s organ works on the same label (reference: 60161.319), gives wondrous new life to the Symphony N°4 with Organ and the Symphonic Variations, for Herbeck’s inspired music is a great piece of work. It is multi-influenced without ever betraying his own style. Wolfgang Doebel says it best: “It is precisely its Janus-head character wherein resides the real appeal of his Symphony N°4, now wrongfully forgotten. It resides in his way of mixing tradition and innovation, Baroque writing, Mendelssohnian lightness and Brucknerian gravity, and last but not least, of combining orchestra and organ that, from the viewpoint of the year 1877, can only be qualified as audacious.” A real revelation…

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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