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Artur KAPP (1878-1952)
Don Carlos – dramatic overture after Friedrich Schiller (1899) [11:06]
Eugen KAPP (1908-1996)
Kalevipoeg – ballet suite (1947) [21:48]
Villem KAPP (1913-1964)
Symphony No. 2 in C minor (1955) [30:21]
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
rec. Studio 7, BBC Broadcasting House, Manchester, 8 July 2005 (Carlos, Kalevipoeg); 5-6 March 2001 (Symphony). DDD
Premiere recording of Villem Kapp’s Symphony No. 2, first issued on BBC Music Magazine CD
CHANDOS CHAN10441 [63:34]

The programme on this CD was played at a concert of the Estonian State Philharmonic Orchestra on 16 June 2007, though as you can see by the recording dates above, this CD is not a record of that concert. It celebrates a dynastic family at the heart of creative musical life in Estonia.
Artur, the son of a sacristan, went to study music at St Petersburg Conservatoire from which he graduated as organist in 1898 and as composer in 1900. After teaching duties in Astrakhan he returned to Estonia in 1920. is works include one hundred songs, five symphonies, five concertos and the grand oratorio Hiob (Job) which was recorded by Järvi on Eres
The Don Carlos overture is given a white hot performance by Järvi. This is no time-serving run-through. The music is a stormy and torridly clamorous  blend of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony. It’s extremely effective and at least as good as the Beethoven Egmont or Schumann’s Julius Caesar.
While Artur’s overture is late-nineteenth century romantic Eugen’s  Kalevipoeg suite is from another world – the Estonian equivalent of the outdoor Moeran and Holst. The music is engagingly folksy, airily orchestrated, open-textured and very accessible. The Shepherds’ Dance is lightly coloured and bright-eyed. Some of this is redolent of Madetoja’s 1915 Second Symphony and Janis Ivanovs’ superb Violin Concerto. Occasionally I was reminded of Malcolm Arnold English Dances with which Kalevipoeg is roughly contemporary. Time for the complete ballet, please. Just as for years we lived with suites of Madetoja’s Okon Fuoko and Tubin’s Kratt and then came Ondine’s unabridged versions so the same principle should be applied to Kalevipoeg.
Villem Kapp was Artur’s nephew. His Second Symphony is dedicated to Roman Matsov who conducted its premiere in Moscow in 1956. It is tuneful and grand with a ‘weakness’ for storming Tchaikovskian heroism. It is without the sometimes blaringly suffocating density of the first symphonies by Boris Tchaikovsky or Georgi Sviridov. Dapper and touching wind writing out of the Borodin-Balakirev tradition together with bass-deep pizzicati are some of the work’s other beguiling DNA signatures. Let’s now hear the First Symphony from 1947.
The audio side and documentation by David Fanning is well up to Chandos’s very best standards. I only wish that Mr Fanning had trialled some other works by each of these composers as an incitement to Chandos and others to continue the exploration.
Three works from the Kapp dynasty. Each one is attractive and accessible without being bland, hectoring or inane. If you already have a weakness for late-romantic overtures then don’t miss this Don Carlos. The other two works have their often unknowing counterparts in folk-impressionistic music by Moeran, Arnold, Sibelius and Prokofiev. Much more please.
Rob Barnett


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