Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Charles Koechlin

... is a course- actually a four- no, seven course meal- in orchestration and arrangement.

Koechlin was something else- you can hear how influential he IS and what a master of the orchestra.
I found Leif Segerstam & Rheinland-Pfalz Philharmonic's version of Koechlin's "The Jungle Book" (four symphonic poems and three orchestral songs making up Livre de la jungle after Rudyard Kipling) that Mike Lang turned me on to on iTunes.
According to the wikipedia entry: "He wrote in several styles, sometimes severe Baroque counterpoint, as in the fugue that opens his Second Symphony (unrecorded as of 2005), sometimes "impressionistically" as in the tone poem Au Loin, or, as in the Symphony No.2's scherzo, yet more astringently. He could go from extreme simplicity to extreme complexity of texture and harmony from work to work, or within the same work. Some of his most characteristic effects come from a very static treatment of harmony, savouring the effect of, for instance, a stacked-up series of fifths through the whole gamut of the instruments. His melodies are often long, asymmetrical and wide-ranging in tessitura. He was closely interested in the works of Schoenberg, some of which he quoted from memory in his treatise on Orchestration. The twelve tone technique is one of the several modern music styles parodied in the 'Jungle Book' symphonic poem Les Bandar-Log, but Koechlin also wrote a few pieces in what he described as the 'style atonal-seriel'. He was fascinated by the movies and wrote many 'imaginary' film scores and works dedicated to the Hollywood actress Lilian Harvey, on whom he had a crush. His Seven Stars Symphony features movements inspired by Douglas Fairbanks, Lilian Harvey, Greta Garbo, Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Emil Jannings and Charlie Chaplin in some of their most famous film roles. He also composed an Epitaph for Jean Harlow and a suite of dances for Ginger Rogers. He was interested in using unusual instruments, notably the saxophone and the early electronic instrument the Ondes Martenot. One movement of the Second Symphony requires four of them (and has not usually been included in the few performances of the work, for that reason). He also wrote several pieces for the hunting-horn, an instrument he himself played. Koechlin orchestrated several pieces by other composers. In addition to the Fauré Pelléas et Mélisande suite mentioned above he orchestrated the bulk of Claude Debussy's 'legende dansée' Khamma under the composer's direction, from the piano score [1], and orchestrated Cole Porter's ballet Within the Quota; other works he transcribed include Schubert's Wanderer Fantasie and Chabrier's Bourrée Fantasque."
Anyways, check it out- I had never really known about him... now I can't find enough.


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