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Poetic Inspirations
August KLUGHARDT (1847–1902)
Schilflieder (Songs of the Reeds), Op. 28 (1872) [19:35]
Charles Martin LOEFFLER (1861–1935)
Two Rhapsodies for Oboe, Viola, and Piano (1901) [21:23]
Felix WHITE (1884–1945)
The Nymph’s Complaint for the Death of her Fawn (1921) [8:08]
Marco Aurélio YANO (1963–1991)
Modinha (1984) [2:45]
Paul HINDEMITH (1895–1963)
Trio for Viola, Heckelphone, and Piano, Op. 47 (1928) [14:44]
Alex Klein (oboe); Richard Young (viola); Ricardo Castro (piano)
rec. 19, 20, 22, 23 April, 16-17 October 2007, WFMT, Chicago
world premiere recordings of the White and Yano.
ÇEDILLE CDR90000 102 [67:10]
Experience Classicsonline

Çedille have a good eye for recording opportunities and a wealth of world class players at their disposal in and around the Chicago area. Here they studiously avoid the obvious not only in the ‘fix’ of the ensemble but also in the repertoire selected. The Loeffler rings a dimly familiar bell with older hands if only because of the famouse Sprenkle-Basile-Tursi recorded by Mercury and once issued on a Eastman Rochester Archive LP.
What of Klughardt though? A German romantic touched with the wand of Schumann and Brahms – especially the former. These five pieces are poised and poetic with the occasional surprise including the Lisztian turmoil of the Feurig (tr. 4) and angelic peace of the final Sehr ruhig. It was unflinching of confident Klughardt to end on such a peaceful benediction. Each movement is based on a poem by Nikolaus Lenau which Çedille print in English translation in the generous booklet. Time for CPO or some other enterprising company to delve amongst Klughardt’s symphonies and operas.
Despite standard books indicating origins in the Alsace, Loeffler was actually born in Schöneberg just outside Berlin. After early studies with Joseph Joachim and Ernest Guiraud he emigrated to the USA where he became assistant concertmaster of the Boston Symphony. The programme notes tell us that many of his works were premiered there and that he gave the first US performances of the violin concertos by Saint-Saëns, Bruch, and Lalo. His Two Rhapsodies were based on poems by Maurice Rollinat. The first, The Pool, is a moonlit fantasy scene which, despite the eldritch poem, seems bathed in benevolent light. The style is Gallic - early Fauré in song -  rather than Debussy or Ravel. It is rather like that of his American contemporary Edward Burlinghame Hill. The Bagpipe is soaked in romantic atmosphere taking the harsh skirling edge off the instrument it is designed to evoke. This is the bagpipe played in some warm pagan Elysium. It’s a magical piece – as enchanting in its different way as the finale of the Klughardt. It would be interesting to hear the orchestral version.
The English composer Felix White came from a Jewish family originally under the name Weiss. An autodidact, he joined the London Philharmonic in 1931 at the celesta and piano. He was championed by Holbrooke and Barbirolli but it was not enough to secure any fame in his lifetime or since. He was fortunate in having The Nymph's Complaint for the Death of her Fawn secure a Carnegie Award. Its inspiration is Andrew Marvell’s poem of the same name which Çedille, again, and with exemplary care, print in full. This is a romantic and impressionistic mood-piece with a nuanced French accent. It moves from a lapping misty evocation through to a sanguine  dancing episode and back – all in a grand but effortless sweep - to the hopeless shores from which it began. Perhaps we can now hope that other Carnegie-published pieces will be revived. How about  the orchestral miniatures by Sam Hartley Braithwaite? I hope also that there will be other pieces by White including the Poem for cello and piano which he wrote for Barbirolli before the latter abandoned the cello for the podium.
Yano’s Modinha - a traditional melody in Brazil - was written as a gift for the oboist on this recording. In Yano’s catalogue there are also two solo oboe works for Klein: Seresta and Improviso). The beautifully poised brevity that is Modinha reminds me that I really must get to hear Marco Yan's Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra. It’s on Çedille with Paul Freeman leading the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.
Klein forsakes the oboe for the related Heckelphone in Hindemith’s seven movement Trio Op. 47. The heckelphone (or bass oboe) is a double-reed instrument produced by the Heckel bassoon company in 1904. It appeared in Strauss’s Salome in 1905 and Bax used it in his First Symphony (1921). It fills the gap between the bassoon and the cor anglais. Of all the pieces here this feels the most ‘modern’, with salty dissonance mixed into the DNA. The viola – which was Hindemith’s instrument – plays a prominent role as instigator and provider of forward momentum. This music lacks the yielding humanity of the other pieces but in its place the music exerts a not inconsiderable fascination and exhilaration.
The liner notes in English only are an exemplar of the art, drawing on the not inconsiderable writing skills of the three players.
A tangy concert mix exploring the blessedly unfamiliar and, in its grouping and choice of music, challenging the accepted wisdom that is the mainstream.
Rob Barnett


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