LEYENDECKER: Violin Concerto / Symphony No. 3 (Johannes Kalitzke/ North German Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Roland Greutter) (Naxos: 8.557427)
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Ulrich Leyendecker (b. 1946)
Violin Concerto Symphony No. 3
After 8th May 1945 everything was supposed to bedifferent. Never again, swore the generation of artistsborn in the 1920s and early 1930s, who often enough hadlost their own fathers, or, at least, their intellectualmentors. Never again should art and music bow under theyoke of tyranny, nor let itself again be misused as an aidto the reality of National Socialism in glossing over theworst atrocities.
Yet so long as humanity is incapable of drawing theright conclusions from its historical mistakes, from every'never again' the exact opposite will come about, as isfrighteningly clear to us from a glance at the music of theyears after the war: hardly had defiant late-maturingbacks been turned on the traditions and the Establishmentresponsible for the disaster in order to find inspiration andfuture perspectives in composers such as Schoenberg andAnton Webern, regarded for some few years as'degenerate' - hardly, then, was the eloquent experimentalistreforming avant-garde born, than 'it had itselfdeveloped the symptoms of an Establishment. Thismanifested itself in an intellectual hardening of attitude,and, going hand in hand with that, in doctrinairearrogance and repression towards 'deviators'. Thus manyyoung composers through this pressure, seen, forexample, in the demand that every prize must be 'new',were forced into sterility', wrote the composer and writerHans Vogt a quarter of a century ago in his book NeueMusik seit 1945 (New Music since 1945) [2nd edition,Stuttgart 1982] worth reading now as before, a work thathits the nail on the head. He could only have topped thisstatement by denouncing the phenomenon that suchgifted musicians as the young Hans Werner Henze foundhimself facing, as what it really was: a new kind ofintellectual fascism.
Artists born after the war had again completelydifferent possibilities. Certainly not everyone in this'young' generation that today dominates the scene, wouldhave admitted in the 1970s and 1980s that the avantgardehad long since become the rearguard. In this waymany sensed their 'big chance' on the running-board of atrain that in quick time would come to a halt againstbuffers on a remote sidetrack where few listeners wouldbe found and where, in the course of time, there would beever less in the form of subventions. Yet many otherswanted again to find certainty from the spirit perceived inpast traditions, turned to the old masters, wrotevariations, permutations and reflections on Gesualdo,Mozart and Schubert, discovered for themselves thevalue of emotion, and even of euphony (often vilified bya gradually shrinking clique of phoney one-timerevolutionaries). Others again succeeded in freeingthemselves from the obsolete avant-garde and also fromthe new widespread desire for historical support and -successful through their creative individuality - enteredupon a new path.
One of these is Ulrich Leyendecker, who was born inWuppertal in 1946. From 1962 to 1965 he studiedcomposition with Ingo Schmitt, then until 1970 withRudolf Petzold at the Cologne Musikhochschule, wherehe also was a piano pupil of G??nter Ludwig. Already in1968 he had a scholarship from the German People'sStudy Foundation, and three years later became Lecturerin Theory at the Hamburg Academy for Music and thePerforming Arts. In 1975 he received an award from theNorth-Rhine-Westphalia region. After a year's residenceat the Villa Massimo in Rome he was appointedProfessor of Composition and Theory at the HamburgMusic and Theatre Hochschule. In 1984/85 there was anaward from the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris, in1986 he became a member of the Hamburg FreeAcademy of Arts, and in 1987 was honoured with theVon der Heydt Prize of the city of Wuppertal. Since 1994he has been Professor of Composition at the StateHochschule for Music and the Performing Arts ofHeidelberg-Mannheim, and since 1997 member of theMannheim Free Academy of Arts. In 2001/02 hereceived a second award from the Cite International desArts in Paris.
Orchestral works, chamber and piano music, as wellas vocal compositions with the most variedaccompaniments (from piano to chamber orchestra)dominate the body of work of the last 35 years or so, bythis distinguished and sought-after composer, who giveshis music titles from historically defined genres such assymphony, concerto, trio, and so on, without treading inthe footsteps of historically established masters. On thecontrary, the tension between the respective titles on theone hand and the emotional, formal compositionalsolution of the problems posed on the other, result inmusic of 'emotional comprehensibility. The wide archformsthat are peculiar to many of his works and thatdecisively determine the character of his creative processare not romanticism, but rather expressive means in amanner of composition that seeks and prefers largercoherence, without forgetting care over detail' (ArndRichter).
Above all, however, Ulrich Leyendecker's'directions for use' are, as will be clear in the following,aids to listening and not philosophical treatises on 'whatthe artist wanted to tell us'. They reveal in simple strokeshow something is made, but do not tell us, the listeners,what to hear. That makes the approach easy to this newmusic, while the listener again has the right to 'have hisown idea', instead of being stuck in his seat, with fixedand despairing look obliged to follow a programme bookwhere the wealth of strange words in most cases isremote from what is heard. No wonder that concert-hallslargely remain empty if contemporary works are given.
Here it is quite different.
Ulrich Leyendecker wrote his Third Symphony in1990/91 as a commission from the Old Opera ofFrankfurt am Main. The work, however, had its firstperformance in Hamburg on 3rd November 1994. Thepresent recording was made one day later.
'In my third symphony the architectural aspect of thetonal arrangement and its relationship with form andinstrumentation particularly concerned me. That is, thearrangement of notes and instrumentation stand in adependent development relationship with form.
'The first movement at the beginning suggests theemptiness of a large space, at rest, divided into fourlevels, very deep, medium, high and very high, whichgradually ... waver, without producing fixed forms. -This links up with seven related slightly varied soundsthat arrange the space as a harmonically perceptibleevent. Then there appear short, wide-spaced intervals,rhythmically very distinct forms on the different planes ofsound, contrasting with the sounds now distinctlyforming changes of harmony. - These three elements('fluctuating large space', 'resting sound' and'rhythmically marked motif') bring the tonal arrangementprocess into motion. The objective of this process is thethe wide space fully unfettered and now filled with theresulting sound, which gives way to a cancrizans(crab-wise) recapitulation.
'The second movement follows a similar, yet incharacter and form very contrasted structural concept.
Here very quickly scurrying figures form the variouslevels of sound. To these are joined rhythmically andspacially sharply pointed fleeting shapes that displace thearrangement of notes from the start in constant dynamicmovement. Various different, contrasting objectives areachieved. At first the fixed space, filled with motifs,which, in a later phase, form a contrasting middle section.
The rondo-like recurring first part picks up respectivelythe new elements of the preceding development, leadingto stronger interpenetration and superimposition ofdifferent tempi and character. The objective of thisdevelopment is a kind of 'high plateau' that graduallydisperses the rapid figures and motifs dominating themovement and descends completely into the deep.