ULRICH LEYENDECKER: Concert for Guitar and Orchestra; Evocation; Symphony No. 4 – Maximilian Mangold, guitar/ Northwest German Philharmonic/Romely Pfund, conductor/ SWR Rundfunk Orchestra Kaiserslautern/ Per Borin, conductor/ SWR Radio-Symphony Orchestra of Stuttgart/Johannes Kalitzke – Musicaphon 55720, 68:45 [Distr. by Qualiton] **1/2 :
Leyendecker (b. 1946) is a composer with roots in the Darmstadt school, though he has not been dogmatic about all of its principles. I think the notes accurate when they speak of his music as rooted in atonalism while preserving a “vestige of tonality”. This release started off very well, the Guitar Concerto a model of its type as far as scoring is concerned, very Webernesque to allow the guitar to always shine forth in the midst of a full orchestra, and employing the latter only at dramatic moments. The guitar passages are obviously idiomatic and complex, showing the composer to be thoroughly familiar with the instrument. It kept my attention despite its “tonality within atonalism” content, and I feel pleased to recommend it. Maximilian Mangold approaches it with much subtlety and persuasiveness.
But the recommendation cannot extend to the rest of the album as the composer falls into some of the most abrasive of the stereotypical modern musician’s tool bag, producing works that are noisy and really unpleasant to hear. In fact, after the guitar work I could not believe I was hearing the same composer. Both Evocations and the Fourth Symphony, though nine years apart, breathe the same unrelieved dissonant air, and the symphony was even a struggle for me to get through. I am not a modern music pansy by any means, and always look for the best that even the most disparate works have to offer; but in this case I detect very little of lasting substance though the composer has demonstrated he has it in him to produce such. I just wish there was more of it on this album. As is, unless 22 minutes is enough for you to justify purchase, I cannot recommend this.
The three orchestras play very well, and Musicaphon’s sound is topnotch.
— Steven Ritter