It's possible, but, because of its tremendous intellectual complexity, it is not necessarily easy to love Charles Koechlin's music. Hänssler Classics should be commended for their series of recordings of Koechlin's music in general, and for this disc combining two of his most imposing orchestral scores: Les Bandar-log and Offrande musicale sur le non de BACH. The former is a 20-minute scherzo taking as its subject matter an episode from Kipling's Jungle Book involving monkeys and music; apparently, if you put enough monkeys in a room long enough, they'll create everything from tonality to atonality to polytonality. The latter is a nearly 50-minute-long compendium of virtually anything and everything that can be done contrapuntally with the pitches B flat, A, C, and B natural (B-A-C-H in German musical nomenclature). Both works require listeners' undivided attention. Without it, it's too easy to get lost in Les Bandar-log's multiple monkey fugues, and in the Offrande musicale's manifold mazes of counterpoint. Attentive listeners, though, will be rewarded with some of the most inventive and entertaining music written in the twentieth century. These performances by Heinz Holliger leading the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart open up the details of the scores: the intelligent design, the luminous colors, the wide-ranging emotions, and the almost unfathomable intricacies. Captured in richly detailed, warmly sonorous digital sound, this disc may help revive interest in Koechlin's work.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Offrande musicale sur le nom de BACH, Op. 187|