GENE GUTCHË (b. 1907)
Rochester PO/David Zinman
rec 4 April 1977 from VOX TV 34705 LP
Genghis Khan (1963)
Louisville Orchestra/Jorge Mester
rec 16 March 1972 Louisville LS722
Bongo Divertimento (1952)
Marvin Dahlgren (percussion)
St Paul Chamber Orchestra/Leopold Sipe
Symphony No. 5 for Strings (1962)
Cincinnati SO/Max Rudolf
rec 1965 issued CRI SD 189
CRI AMERICAN MASTERS CD825
Gene Gutchë was born in Berlin into a family antipathetic to his musical
talent. His father was a successful businessman who eventually paid for piano
lessons with Busoni. Gutchë studied linguistics, philosophy and business
at the universities of Lausanne, Heidelberg and Padua. In 1925 he forsook
Germany and then settled in Minnesota where he ultimately became an elder
statesman composer. His orchestral skills were sharpened by attendance at
rehearsals of the Minneapolis Symphony with Mitropoulos and Dorati. His hour-long
Akhenaten Symphony (soli, chorus and orchestra) was premiered by Slatkin
and the St Louis in 1983.
ICARUS is a four movement programmatic suite: 1. Cristobal Colon:
sparkling, lightly explosive, vehement tarred with the same brush as the
dynamic finale of Piston's Second Symphony but collapsing into a quite unDelian
dream; 2. sea-jangly percussion and insolent brass suffused with the sea's
supernal secrecy and ruffled with sporadic gusts and spits. 3.
Insurrection reminiscent of Shostakovich's splenetic energy (symphony
no. 12); 4. Isthmus: bragging, swaggering, the strut of Antheil's
Capital Of The World.
GENGHIS. Written for an orchestra of triple winds and no strings (apart from
basses). Lithe and clean it has a streaming abrasion and a sense of tumultuous
right and left hooks. There is a constant pressure applied to both slow and
fast music. The pregnant wind motifs at start trace their way back to Rite
BONGO DIVERTIMENTO: A sequence that encompasses impatience, a study in the
sinister and the phantasmal, the sense of humour undeniable in the portrait
of a bluebottle flying around the stage. Audience noise does no harm whatsoever.
SYMPHONY: Compare this work with the contemporaneous William Schuman Symphony
No. 5. Ad Rawsthorne's string writing in Symphonic Studies. The first movement
is lithe, waspish and Bartokian. The Burletta is an grown up version of Britten's
Simple Symphony. The mesto soliloquises ready for a buzzing Lesto which glances
slantways at Tippets Concerto for Double String Orchestra - humming and buzzing
if not quite at full pelt.
At the end of hearing this disc you may well join with me in wanting to hear
the other Gutchë symphonies. His music will draw you in if you take
your music spare, with an acid splash of the atonal and without sugary additives.
The booklet is supportive. Sound varies given the very different provenance
of each of the four pieces.