PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
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

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


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.