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CHAN 9651
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CHAN 9651

Gerhard: Symphony No. 4/ Pandora

The Classical Shop
release date: October 1999

Originally recorded in 1997


BBC Symphony Orchestra

Matthias Bamert


Blackheath Halls, London


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens

Richard Smoker


Record Label




Total Time - 53:38
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Select Complete Single Disc for

Symphony No. 4 'New York'


Pandora Suite

2 I The Quest 4:24
3 II Psyche and the Youth 7:30
4 III Pandora's Carnival 2:26
5 IV The Monster's Drill 4:41
6 V Death and the Mothers 7:42
Matthias Bamert conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in this fifth and final disc in Chandos’ highly regarded Gerhard Symphonies edition.

This disc features two very rare works, both of which have only one comparative version available in the catalogue.

The Gerhard Symphonies Edition has been recognised as a timely acknowledgment of one of this century’s most remarkable and idiosyncratic composers. The Sunday Times wrote:
The centenary of the British-exiled Catalan composer Roberto Gerhard’s birth last year [1996] sparked a renewed interest in his work, continuance of which this splendid disc [CHAN 9556] will only encourage.

Gerhard was commissioned to write his Fourth Symphony in 1966 by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and it was first performed in New York on December of that year, conducted by William Steinberg. The following year the score was revised for its continental premiere. In terms of orchestral forces, Gerhard made the most of the commission and scored it for quadruple woodwind, six horns, four trumpets, four trombones, tuba, celesta, piano, two harps, four timpani, four percussion players and full string orchestra.

The overall form of the symphony is extremely complex: the number of sections seems to vary from one performance to another, depending on the interpretation and the listener’s reaction to the music’s discourse. In terms of its harmony the symphony is Gerhard’s most adventurous score; it ranges from the implied traditional tonality of the Spanish folk tune he employs to the awesome multi-pitched clusters which imitate and transcend the ‘white-noise’ of electro acoustic music.

Gerhard was commissioned to write Pandora by the exiled German Ballet Jooss in 1942. It was originally scored for two pianos and percussion, but he later revised it for small orchestra and this version served as a basis for the suite recorded here. The ballet’s scenario is a twentieth century interpretation of the Pandora myth, Pandora, who represents materialism, opens the forbidden box and lets evil loose on the world, while Psyche, representing spirituality and the soul saves the world by resisting evil.

Gerhard’s score is closely related to his other post de Falla, post-Bartók compositions, written during the first years of his English exile; most of the score’s melodic material is derived from Catalan folksongs. He tries to choose appropriate songs for ballet’s scenario; the music therefore is never ‘folksy’ and this symphonic suite is a highly sophisticated and powerful evocation of the ballet’s dark subject, making full use of his own personal polytonality of the period.

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