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Sample from Hyperion
Lamond: Sword Dance from 'Eine Liebe im Scottischen Hochlande' [6'19]

Eugen d'ALBERT (1864-1932)
Overture to Esther Op. 8 [12.30]
Frederic LAMOND (1868-1948)

Symphony in A major Op. 3 (1889) [31.24]
Ouvertüre Aus Dem Schottischen Hochlande Op. 4 (1890?) [9.17]
Sword Dance from Eine Liebe im Hochlande (1890s?) [6.14]
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Martyn Brabbins
rec. 4-5 Sept 2003, Usher Hall, Edinburgh. DDD
HYPERION CDA67387 [59.51]


Rare orchestral music from two of Scotland's nineteenth century romantics: D'Albert, a hotshot pianist, born in Glasgow of mixed Scottish and French parentage; Lamond, another lion of the keyboard also from the Glasgow area, Cambuslang actually. Lamond was best known as a pianist - his compositions are few and were rarely aired. His physical resemblance to Beethoven caused quite a stir. He was a friend of Richard Strauss although I detect nothing of Strauss's idiom in his writing, in case you were wondering. D'Albert was very prolific with twenty operas, a Symphony, two piano concertos (already recorded by Hyperion) and two string quartets (on the Swiss label Pan Classics, I think - [they have three d'Albert recordings link - LM).

The Esther of d'Albert 's characterful overture is the Biblical Esther, diplomatic and courageous. The music is suave and romantically inclined, rather a hybrid of contented Schumann and lively Mendelssohn. There are a few shadows of Mendelssohn's Italian from time to time. No date is given in John Purser's otherwise exemplary note - not even speculation - which is a pity. The essay by Dr Purser is lengthy, full of illumination and gives pause for thought but dates are in regrettably short supply. I would have estimated 1890s for Esther. Certainly he graduated to a more psychological and harmonically complex idiom in some of the operas - as in Die Toten Augen (recording on CPO) ALSO LINK TO ROB’S REVIEW.

Lamond's one and only Symphony is in four movements and is by no means 'sturm and drang'. This time there is that Mendelssohnian flightiness and sleight of hand coupled with the sort of bright inspiration that runs through Beethoven's Fourth and Eighth symphonies. There are also more than a few admiring glances cast towards Brahms Third Symphony.

The other two Lamond pieces have a subtle and distinctive Highland fragrance. They are by no means as kitsch as Bruch's Scottish Fantasia. Both works are pipe-and-tabor bright, light and airily orchestrated. This is music that would go well with Massenet's ballets (for example the under-rated El Cid music) and orchestral suites and with Bizet's L’Arlésienne and Jolie Fille de Perth music.

Everything here is performed with vigour and engagement. String tone remains pleasing if far from voluptuous. The orchestra spin Lamond's Beethovenian gruffness at the end of the Dance letting it romp home with majestic emphasis.

Both composers spent considerable periods of time in Germany teaching and performing. D'Albert died in Riga after his anti-British and pro-German stance became too prominent for comfort. Lamond found he had to leave Germany in 1940 because of his anti-Nazi views.

These works aspire to spirited entertainment and pictorialism rather than to high drama. They are in that sense to be counted with the symphonies of Huber, Cliffe (both on Sterling) and Stanford (Chandos) rather than with Parry or Elgar.

The world of classical music should be welcoming to these freshly liberated works long condemned to dusty shelves and unmerited oblivion. Well done to Hyperion and all concerned in this project.

Now please do have a look some other esoteric ‘Ecosserie’ - why not Erik Chisholm's two turbulent symphonies of the 1930s as well as his Violin Concerto. Later still why not explore Ronald Stevenson's much more recent concertos for violin and for cello and the Symphony and other orchestral music of Cedric Thorpe Davie.

Rob Barnett

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