I send my best wishes for a happy New Year.
Mine has started with an unexpected drift into a New Year resolution. I decided a few days ago that I would try to listen to a different symphony every day this year – so 365 symphonies. Some I’ll already know, but many I won’t.
One symphony I didn’t know which has already made an impression is the fourth by Swiss-born composer Arthur Honegger (1892-1955). Honegger wrote five in all. I know his 3rd very well – a violent, energetic piece with a sublime ending which features one of the most beautiful chords I’ve ever heard. It occurs a few bars from the end, a wash of ethereal light and joy, descending in pitch across the orchestra, and prepared for by several minutes of deeply lyrical music with a melody at a stratospheric altitude.
The 4th is a more gentle, lyrical piece celebrating the city of Basle. It lasts about 26 minutes. The recording I know is the one on the Erato label. Civilized and sophisticated, it was comforting to listen to yesterday after news of the barbarism in Paris.