After a long wait imposed by the Covid pandemic, we present our third CD recording with Toccata Classics
Whether in his original home of Vienna, as a conservatoire director in Germany, or as an émigré in Edinburgh, where he became one of the mainstays of musical life, Hans Gál (1890–1987) championed choral singing as a way of directly involving people in making music: he founded and conducted a number of choirs and provided an extensive output of choral compositions. This second album of Gál’s choral music offers a vivid cross-section of his music for chamber choir, featuring mixed voices, women’s voices and male-voice choir, both a cappella and with piano, and ranging across four decades.
Featuring the following works
Drei Lieder nach Gedichten von Rainer Maria Rilke, Op. 31, for women’s voices (1928)
Three Lyrics to Poems by Thomas Moore, unpublished, for 4-part mixed choir (1928)
Songs of Youth, Op. 75, for men’s voices (1959)
Two Madrigals to Poems by Thomas Lodge, unpublished, for 4-part mixed choir (1939-40)
Spätlese, Op. 91, for men’s voices (1966)
Drei Gesänge, Op. 37, for 4-part mixed choir (1929-30)
Drei Porträtstudien nach Gedichten von Wilhelm Busch, Op. 34, for men’s voices (1929)
Like many Austrian Jews, Robert Fürstenthal (1920–2016) fled to the USA after the German invasion of his country in 1938. Music then became a link to his homeland: ‘When I compose, I am back in Vienna’. As an amateur composer, Fürstenthal preferred to work on a small scale, and his output of songs and chamber music is considerable. But he also wrote two sizable works for chamber choir, the first of which, in this series of two albums, is bookended by piano sonatas – all three works revealing that the tradition of Schubert and Brahms was alive in the California sun.
Borealis’s first CD, Hans Gál: Music for Voices Volume One, was featured on BBC Radio 3’s flagship Saturday morning show Record Review (18 July 2020) and its sister programme Record Review Extra (19 July 2020).
Presenter Andrew McGregor remarked:
‘it’s a side of Hans Gal’s music that needs to be heard to appreciate his life-long love of choral singing and conducting. And they’re almost all first recordings. […] Very good notes as well—great context.’
Presiding over the more extended Record Review Extra, Hannah French continued in similar vein:
‘As we heard earlier from the Huelgas Ensemble, unearthing little-known music is always an exciting prospect, and we’ve more now, this time from the twentieth century. Interest in Hans Gál has been steadily increasing over the last twenty years, but this disc—released last month from Toccata Classics—is the first choral album to appear, revealing a veritable trove of vocal pieces that were discovered as part of the ongoing Performing the Jewish Archive project. And I hear volume two is waiting in the wings!’
To listen to the full programmes, follow the links above. Alternatively, to hear just the sections featuring Borealis, you can listen below:
Record Review, 18 July 2020, Borealis section
Record Review Extra, 19 July 2020, Borealis sections
We are proud to present our first CD recording, available now!
Whether in his original home of Vienna, as a conservatoire director in Germany, or as an émigré in Edinburgh, where he became one of the mainstays of musical life, Hans Gál (1890–1987) championed choral singing as a way of directly involving people in making music: he founded and conducted a number of choirs and provided an extensive output of choral compositions. This first volume in a long-term project to record his choral music presents a rich variety of works for a cappella voices, ranging from demanding eight-part choruses to charming folksong settings.
Featuring the following works
Motet (Op. 19, 1924) for 8-part mixed choir
Epigrams: Five Madrigals after Poems by Lessing (Op. 27, 1926) for 8-part mixed choir
Four Madrigals to Elizabethan Poems (Op. 51, 1939) for mixed choir
Satirikon: Four Aphorisms (Op. 72, 1957) for male voices
Four British Folk-Songs (unpublished, 1969) for 4-part mixed choir
Four Part-Songs (unpublished, 1966) for 4-part mixed choir
We are raising funds to complete the recording of vols 1 & 2 of Hans Gál: Music for Voices, a multi-volume project in collaboration with Toccata Classics and The Hans Gál Society
Please take a look at our Crowdfunder page (link above), and also check out our funding campaign video:
+Hans Gál: Music for Voices - Crowdfunding campaign video
Music for Voices: PREVIEW
Hans Gál's word setting
Music for Voices: My true love
your help, we aim to raise £7,000 by Friday 10th January 2020 to record
vol.2 of the complete choral music of Austrian composer Hans Gál
(1890–1987). The project is a collaboration between professional chamber
choir Borealis, award-winning record label Toccata Classics, and the
Hans Gál Society; special guest accompanist Ian Buckle will feature in
We will also put the finishing
touches to vol.1 of the Hans Gál series ready for its launch in the
spring of 2020. Vol.2 will then be released in the Autumn of 2020.
Who was Hans Gál?
Born near Vienna in 1890, Hans Gál was one of the leading lights of Austro-German music in the early twentieth century, championed by such prominent figures as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Richard Strauss. Despite their profound musical difference, he maintained friendships with composers as diverse as Alban Berg, Anton von Webern and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. He co-founded Vienna’s Bach Society (1912) and his own Vienna Madrigal Society (1927; pictured above, left. Gál is seated front centre). In 1929 his hard work and early successes were rewarded with appointment to the Directorship of the Mainz Conservatory.
Within four years,
however, the Gál family’s Jewish heritage would lead them to flee—first
to Vienna, then to London, and eventually to Edinburgh in 1939. Aside
from a five-month period of internment near Liverpool and on the Isle of
Man as an ‘enemy alien’ in 1940, Gál remained in Edinburgh for the rest
of his life, becoming a popular and highly respected member of the
city’s musical circles, and a co-founder of the Edinburgh International
Why is a recording needed?
in Hans Gál’s music has grown rapidly over the past 20 years. A
significant proportion of the composer’s instrumental music has now been
recorded, notably Leon McCawley’s 3-disc complete piano works (2005),
several interpretations of the four symphonies, and the Edinburgh
Quartet’s recording of the string quartets (2011). One of Gál’s operas—Das Lied der Nacht [The Song of the Night], 1926)—is now available on CD, and he was even BBC Radio 3’s Composer of the Week in May 2014.
no CD recording (professional or otherwise) of Gál’s choral music is
available, despite an output of well in excess of 100 partsongs, motets
and madrigals (both a cappella and accompanied by piano or a variety of small ensembles), and five cantata-like works for choir and orchestra.
Music for Voices project will redress this situation. Between 2019 and
2025 we will make available to the world for the first time Hans Gál’s
extraordinary treasure trove of music for choirs of many shapes and
From grand choruses with orchestra, through
harmonically sumptuous works for 8-part chamber choir, to the intimacy
of his settings for separate male and female choirs, Gál’s music for
voices has something to suit all tastes. Darkly-hued passion rapidly
gives way to satire of the most cutting (and often hilarious!) nature;
this is music to be tasted, savoured, absorbed and loved.
About the project partners
Borealis (A Chamber Choir for the North) is
an outstanding new professional chamber choir rapidly gaining a
reputation for warm tone, vibrancy in performance, and adventurous
choices of repertoire. Under
the joint leadership of Bridget Budge (pictured right) and Steve Muir
(below, left), the choir comprises a core of sixteen exceptional choral
singers from across the north as far and wide as Manchester, Durham,
Huddersfield, York, Sheffield, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield, and
We strive for a balance between young, emerging singers, and those with many years’ experience. Some of our members are just out of college, or have recently completed Genesis Sixteen, National Youth Choir, or similar fellowship schemes. Some have returned from Oxbridge or Cathedral choral scholarships in search of choral excellence near to home.
The older members include teachers from northern universities and specialist institutions like Chetham’s School or the RNCM. Several were choral scholars under Stephen Cleobury, Richard Marlow, and other prominent figures in recent choral history. Still active as first-rate choral singers, they bring a depth of tone and wealth of experience that complements and underpins the lighter agility of the upcoming generation, creating a uniquely rich and flexible blend.
Ian Buckle (piano)
Buckle maintains a varied freelance career working as soloist,
accompanist, chamber musician, orchestral pianist and teacher. He enjoys
longstanding associations with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonicand the John Wilson Orchestra,
and has appeared with them as soloist on numerous occasions. He has
also played concertos with the Royal Philharmonic, Opera North, Sinfonia
Viva and the Manchester Concert Orchestra.
contemporary music, he has been the pianist in Ensemble 10/10 since the
group’s inception in 1997. He frequently collaborates with poets and
readers, most recently Andrew Motion, Roger McGough and Deryn
Rees-Jones. Ian is the artistic director and pianist of Pixels Ensemble and teaches piano at the Universities of Liverpool and Leeds.
Ian’s most recent recording (Humphrey Procter-Gregg’s chamber music, vol.1: violin sonatas, with violinist Andrew Long) is also with Toccata Classics. Other album releases include transcriptions for cello and piano with Jonathan Aasgaard (MSR Classics), new works for clarinet and piano with former BBC Young Musician winner Mark Simpson (Prism), an album of English music with clarinettist Nicholas Cox (Naxos). In addition, Ian features on The Best of the John Wilson Orchestra performing Gershwin’s New York Rhapsody live from the Royal Albert Hall.
“…one of the most fearlessly enterprising labels on earth” —Fanfare
Forgotten Music By Great Composers, Great Music By Forgotten Composers
is dedicated to producing recordings of the huge amount of top-notch
classical music that the concert halls and major record companies are
Launched in 2005, Toccata now have over 400 albums in
the catalogue; in the pipeline are recordings of music by (among many
others) Alkan, Czerny, Fürstenthal, Graedener, Krenek, Moór, Raykhelson,
Shebalin, Tartini, Telemann, Weinberg and, of course, Hans Gál!
a relatively small record label, they punch well above their weight!
However, the stark reality is that, like all but the very largest
labels, they have to work in close partnership with their artists to
raise the funds required to cover the cost of recording, editing,
promoting, storing, and distributing the music that they are passionate
about. Without wonderful people like you supporting
outstanding ensembles like Borealis, labels such as Toccata would
rapidly become unsustainable, and vast swathes of excellent music would
probably never be heard again.
The journey on which Toccata Classics has embarked might never end, but it will be an exciting voyage of discovery nonetheless. We hope that you come on board for the ride with them and us, and support Hans Gál: Music for Voices.
The Hans Gál Society
is a UK-based international charity dedicated to sharing information on
Hans Gál’s life and works, and preserving the composer’s legacy for
future generations. The society is thrilled to see Gál’s choral music
finally emerge from the shadows, and is delighted to work with Borealis
and Toccata Classics to see this project through to completion over the
next five years. As well as promotion of the project to its membership,
the society can help provide copies of Gál scores that are currently out
of print, or have remained unpublished at all. The Music for Voicesproject
will therefore be as comprehensive a collection of Gál’s choral music
as is possible, embracing every extant work that the composer wrote for
Registered charity no. 1116965 (England & Wales), and SC040273 (Scotland)
Why do we need your help?
high-quality recordings is essential if Gál’s choral music is to be
re-evaluated and enter the repertoire of choirs today. Recordings are
the primary means of introducing unknown music to new audiences and
potential future performers, who in turn will bring their own
interpretations and help establish Gál as one of the finest choral
composers of the twentieth century.
Recordings are also vital for
Borealis as we enter our second year. Whilst bringing live performances
to large audiences is at the heart of our activities, recordings will
help raise our profile within the classical music industry, with the
knock-on effect of enabling further recordings and live events.
recording a professional ensemble is expensive! Ticket sales from
concert performances, even with capacity audiences, can rarely cover the
true cost of events; fundraising is therefore crucial to our future.
Unfortunately, few arts funders support recordings (don’t worry: we’re
approaching those that do!), making us value the generous support of
friends like you all the more.
So, in order to bring Hans Gál’s glorious music to the 21st-century choral world, and take Borealis to the next phase of its development as an ensemble, we need your help now. £7,000 will cover the remaining cost of recording and producing vol.2 and finalising vol.1. Your donation will fund transport, expenses, and logistical costs; fees for our 17 singers, conductor, and pianist; production and editing costs; promotion (in print and online) of the Music for Voices series internationally; and piano tuning during the four-day recording period.
What rewards are we offering?
We have a great range of rewards! You can help us raise at least £7,000 by pledging as much or as little as you can.
you simply want to make a donation you can pledge £10 and we’ll say a
big ‘thank you’ in the programme of our next concert, and on the
website. Or you may be interested in some of the other exciting things
A copy of either CD, or both, signed by Borealis’s artistic directors.
CD and concert ticket packages.
The opportunity to meet the choir and its directors over drinks after the concert of your choice.
Lifelong membership of the Friends of Borealis, with exclusive events, open rehearsals, and “sneak previews” of forthcoming concerts and recordings.
A private concert performed by selected members of Borealis.
The opportunity to become a Major Sponsor of Hans Gál: Music for Voices
Music for Voices – contents of vols 1 & 2:
Motet (Op. 19, 1924) for 8-part mixed choir a cappella
Epigrams: Five Madrigals after Poems by Lessing (Op. 27, 1926) for 8-part mixed choir a cappella
Four Madrigals to Elizabethan Poems (Op. 51, 1939) for mixed choir a cappella
Satirikon: Four Aphorisms (Op. 72, 1957) for male voices a cappella
Four British Folk-Songs (without Op., 1969) for 4-part mixed choir a cappella
Four Part-Songs (without Op., 1966) for 4-part mixed choir a cappella
Herbstlieder [Autumn Songs] (Op. 25, 1912), five songs for women’s voices a cappella
Three Songs to Poems by R.M.Rilke (Op. 31, 1928) for female voices and piano
Drei Porträtstudien (Op. 34, 1929) for male voices and piano
Drei Gesänge (Op. 37, 1929) for mixed choir a cappella
Spätlese (Op. 91, 1966); six songs for male voices a cappella
Three Thomas Moore Songs (without Op., 1942) for mixed choir and piano
Two Thomas Lodge Songs (without Op., 1939) for mixed choir a cappella
We are delighted to announce the programme for our Gala Concert performance at the 2019 Grassington Festival.
Join us at The Priory Church, Bolton Abbey (BD23 6AL) for a concert of sacred and secular music covering nearly five centuries. The concert will feature excerpts from Borealis’s forthcoming CD of “Hans Gál: Music for Voices, vol. 1”. See the full programme on the event page.