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[Off The Record]
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Claus Ogermann/National Philharmonic Orchestra

Yeah, thatís what I said: Claus who? Ogermann turns out to be fairly well known to the jazz-vocal world, having done arrangements for Sinatra and Streisand, among others. Apparently this release of a piano concerto and a concerto for orchestra is part of his project of writing "serious compositions." "Serious" isnít the first word that comes to mind on listening to these works, though: "repetitive," "numbing," "formless," and "indistinct" would compete for that title. Ogermann seems not to have the faintest clue what goes into a serious orchestral work. Melodic fragments (if they deserve the moniker) wander about aimlessly or are repeated to death. The music has neither a clear architecture nor a clear emotional profile; it just goes on and on. Ogermann seems to be capable of writing for an orchestra, and he knows about basic harmony, but in neither capacity is there much in the way of individuality. Despite references in the liner notes to Schoenberg and Webern, dissonance is almost nonexistent. The sound is hazy and indistinct, which means it matches the music. The liner notes and press material keep saying that Glenn Gould had high respect for Ogermann, but whatever it was that Glenn heard, Iím not hearing it.

Even worse is the way the liner notes range from the condescending ("the work . . . is written in terms of the major-minor principle, which means it is tonal") to the poorly written ("the incandescent brilliant first movement") to the meaningless (one piece is "scored for the so-called ĎLarge Orchestraí ") to the ridiculous ("the music conveys a feeling that can only be described in the broadest sense as Ďreverentialí "). The one useful piece of information is that Ogermann intends his works "to evoke warm emotional response." Thatís a relief, because they sure arenít intended to be interesting music.


Issue Date: November 29 - December 6, 2001

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