Music

Simon Murphy and the New Dutch Academy: Crowing Glory - Zappa Symphonies

Simon Murphy's rediscovery and recording of court musicians in the Hague has been not only an aesthetic, but an archeological exploration. The disc has amplified the excitement of Willem V's culturally fertile reign.


Simon Murphy and the New Dutch Academy

Crowing Glory - Zappa Symphonies

Subtitle: The Musical Heritage of the Netherlands
Label: Pentatone Classics
US Release Date: 2010-01-26
UK Release Date: 2010-01-18
Amazon
iTunes

The New Dutch Academy, under Simon Murphy, has produced Crowning Glory: Zappa Symphonies, touted as a “world première” recording despite the fact that the pieces are nearly 300 years old. The project is as much archaeological as anything. A team of musicological researchers managed to uncover a collection of compositions with the help of Murphy and the New Dutch Academy. The result is a fascinating insight into the creativity and entertainment available at court under Willem V. The excitement of the compositions mirrors that of the time, one rife with intrigue as he assisted Britian against America's war of indepedence.

Even the savage beast of realpolitik can be soothed. In this case it was in Willem's felicitous marriage to Wilhelmina of Prussia (who was equally passionate about music, according to the liner notes) which reinforced the couple's potency in Europe (Frederick the Great was Wilhelmina's uncle). Making the most of their common love of music, they adorned their court with some of the most talented and vibrant musicians and composers of the period. Amongst these recordings are works by musicians who were at court during this time, including Francesco Zappa (no relation), Kappelmeister Christian Ernst Graaf, and violin/violist Carl Stamitz.

It is Murphy and the New Dutch Academy's, well, academic enthsuiasm which gives the listener an engaging and well-recorded set (for those wanting another SACD to play in their white elephant machine, this would be perfect). Played with authentic instruments and with a tuning ten cents flat to today's standard, this is at best only secondary to the magic of the disc. Rather, the wonder lies somewhere in the sense of familiarity and ambitious cross-pollination amongst the symphonies represented. In the days before “intellectual property” was so carefully and litigiously codified, melodic and harmonic ideas were shared amongst composers to work further a motif, a pattern, a progression. Listen to the beginning of the "Presto" movement of Schwindl's Symphony in D, and you hear the same six notes as the beginning of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. With Graaf, however, these six notes, harmonized identically to Beethoven's, are like a bee dancing the pollen onto his legs. Beethoven's is the shock of being told one has three week to get one's affairs in order. That is a potency of melodic and harmonic ideas which stretch a good half century past the refuge of the Hague. So exciting, in fact, are Zappa and Graaf's pieces that Mozart's Hague Symphony comes off as almost turgid in comparison.

Amongst the composers, optimism permeates their work in a way which can only reflect the new-found sense of centrality in Willem's dealings with his princely brothers. The "Presto" movement of Graaf's Symphony in D careens through the listener's sensibilities, Murphy conducting the orchestra through with just enough self-discipline to keep the mainspring from escaping in disaster.

The set concludes with Carl Stamitz, whose father was widely recgognized as having developed the symphonic form, bringing a climax highly evocative of the period, and demonstrating that in the Hague, the classical apex of Haydn, Beethoven, et. al. was produced in the atmosphere of a couple who were not so seduced by the centrality of their waning monarchical influence to keep composers like Schwindl, Zappa, and Graaf in their employ. This rediscovery invigorates not only the listener, but the historian. The electricity of the politics of this time is reflected so marvellously in this collection that this reviewer was encouraged to reread an account of the Dutch stadtholder's troubled reign, his flight to England, and the pre-revolutionary troubles soon to afflict all of the monarchy. With a brilliant recording, led by a committed conductor and researcher, such cross-disciplinary joys are possible. Would that more be forthcoming from similiarly passionate souls.

9
Music
Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Music

PopMatters Seeks Music Critics and Essayists

If you're a smart, historically-minded music critic or essayist, let your voice be heard by the quality readership of PopMatters.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Books
Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Books

The American Robot: A Cultural History [By the Book]

In The American Robot, Dustin A. Abnet explores how robots have not only conceptually connected but literally embodied some of the most critical questions in modern culture, as seen in this excerpt from chapter 5 "Building the Slaves of Tomorrow", courtesy of University of Chicago Press.

Dustin A. Abnet
Film
Film

The Road to Murder in Love and War: Three Films from Claude Chabrol

The character's in Claude Chabrol's The Third Lover, Line of Demarcation, and The Champagne Murders are obsessively doubled and mirrored, reflecting and refracting their hunger for sex, love, money, and power.

Film

'Memento' Is the Movie of the Attention Economy

We are afraid of time, and so like Leonard in Memento, we kill it, compulsively and indiscriminately.

Film

What Lurks Beneath: 'Jaws' and Political Leadership in the Time of COVID-19

Boris Johnson admires the Mayor in Spielberg's Jaws. Remember him? He was the guy who wouldn't close the beaches -- and sacrifice that revenue source -- during a public crisis.

Film

'The Serpent's Egg' Marks One of Ingmar Bergman's Strangest Efforts

The Serpent's Egg bares many of the Bergman's trademark features – the suffocating auras of despair and an underdog's sense of triumph over tragedy – but falls short of a more intelligent rendering of human drama.

Recent
Music

The Killers - "Caution" (Singles Going Steady)

The Killers go for the big hooks and singable anthems on "Caution", but opinion is sharply divided about the song's merits amongst our Singles Going Steady panel.

Music

Lilly Hiatt - "Some Kind of Drug" (Singles Going Steady)

Lilly Hiatt sings about a different kind of love on "Some Kind of Drug". Hers is for a city and the impact gentrification has had its soul.

Music

There's Never Enough Time for Folk Music's James Elkington

The sometimes Wilco and Richard Thompson sideman, in-demand producer, and songwriter, James Elkington, muses on why it's taking longer than he expects to achieve more in a week than most of us get done in a lifetime.

Music

Billy Corgan Brainwashed Me: '90s Alternative Rock and the Introspective Abyss

Once in its thrall, these days I find the overriding message of '90s alt-rock especially naïve and even dangerous.

Books

Classic Shōjo Today: Moto Hagio's 'The Poe Clan'

Moto Hagio's The Poe Clan manga series a gender-fluid melodrama marked by deep psychological trauma.

Music

Salsa Band LPT Hints at the Genre's Future

LPT's debut album, Sin Parar, hits all the right notes for a contemporary salsa album.

Music

Jennah Barry Offers Up a Warm, Sublime Collection of Memorable Tunes on 'Holiday'

Canadian indie folkster Jennah Barry returns with her long-awaited sophomore album, Holiday, which takes on a looser, more relaxed approach.

Music

Fotocrime's '80s-Inspired Rock Is Often Half-Baked

Fotocrime's South of Heaven is interesting mostly in that it's one of the most mediocre rock records I've heard in a long time.

Music

Maria McKee Puts Down Her Electric Guitar and Picks up Dante on 'La Vita Nuova'

"Show Me Heaven" was another country. Maria McKee has moved to England, immersed herself in the Classics and turned away from the 21st century.

Books

Phuc Tran's Existential Trip of a Memoir, 'Sigh, Gone'

Phuc Tran's smart, tough memoir, Sigh, Gone, might launch a broken down kid to read 150 great books—for free, at the local library.

Music

Weeks Island's 'Droste' Is a New High Water Mark in Ambient Steel (EP stream) (premiere)

Lost Bayou Ramblers' Jonny Campos turns up as Weeks Island with Brian Eno/Cluster-inspired music straight from the bayou. Hear Droste in full ahead of its release on Friday.

Music

Ireland's Junk Drawer Share New Krautrock Meets Post-Punk Song, "Temporary Day" (premiere)

Junk Drawer's "Temporary Day" is a simple yet compelling video for a gripping song that shows why the band have earned such acclaim in their native Ireland.

Books

John Pham's ​J​&K​​ - It's a Matter of Perspective

In J&K, John Pham explores perspectives in the psychological sense. Like Picasso, he views things from more than one angle.

Music

Miranda Lambert - "Bluebird" (Singles Going Steady)

Miranda Lambert sings her blues the way an artist paints with them on her latest single, "Bluebird".

Music

'Stone Crush' Proves (Again) That Memphis Is Ground Zero for Soul and R&B

Stone Crush shines a light on the forgotten -- or never known -- artists that passed through the doors of Memphis' most storied studios in an attempt at just one fleeting moment of fame.

Music

Circles Around the Sun Shoot for the Stars on New Album

Jamrockers Circles Around the Sun's self-titled third album finds the band transcending darkness after losing their founder in 2019 to chart a groovy new course.

Music

Jazz's Kandace Springs Pays Tribute to 'The Women Who Raised Me'

Singer and pianist Kandace Springs tackles a dozen songs associated with her jazz vocal heroes, and the combination of simplicity and sincerity is winning.

Music

Coronavirus Tunes: A Brief Playlist for Our Times of Self-Isolation

As coronavirus spreads throughout the world and many of us hunker down with online media, we offer eight songs that share our feeling of seclusion.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.