Felix DRAESEKE (1835-1913)
Symphony in G Major (1872) [38.55]
Piano Concerto (1886)
Wuppertal SO/George Hanson
rec 21-24 June, 16-17 Aug 1999, Stadthalle,
MD&G 335 0929-2
This is a symphony of high romance but not at all in the Raff or Mendelssohn
camps. Draeseke's stormy models are Beethoven and Brahms whose Egmont music
and Second Symphony respectively are denizens of the first movement. Did
I detect a hint of Tchaikovskian passion also? The bipartite first movement
(ominous adagio and dark allegro) ends in a 'stürm and
drang' sunset which takes us into terra Sibeliana.
The flighty scherzo has no Beethovenian or Brahmsian ponderousness.
The precise ensemble and complementary masculine clarity of recording and
sound-picture are wonderfully expressive. A good demonstration track. You
need have no fears about an orchestra that some may thoughtlessly dismiss
as 'bush-league'. This is a very polished eloquent ensemble and perceptively
directed in an event that is anything but a run-through.
The core adagio runs just over a quarter of an hour. at first rather
'stop-start' then achieving continuity. Time does, sometimes, hang heavy
here but it ends and starts well.
Mendelssohn's Italian and Elgar's Black Knight are presences
in the final allegro con brio. The work ends with conventional classical
The piano concerto's Allegro Moderato is heaved and thundered in best
romantic tradition with the piano striking upwards from the lowest registers.
It is touched with the passion of Schumann and the technique of Liszt. A
cloying thickness in the sound makes this less approachable than it could
be. The second movement's Elysian concentration will recall the 'still small
voice' (4.20) at the heart of Brahms' Second Piano Concerto and a playful
delight which carries over into the allegro molto vivace with an infusion
of dance energy from Beethoven 7. Lovers of the Saint-Saëns and Palmgren
concertos your search is at an end ... for now!
MD&G are a company whose release lists should be closely vetted for
invigorating fresh repertoire. Now how about the orchestral works of Bungert
(a protégé of Carmen Sylva and composer of the operqtic tetralogy
Die Homerische Welte and Die Erste Grosses Fahrt der Zeppelin),
Trapp, Marx (Herbstsinfonie, Naturtrilogie and Castelli
Romana for piano and orchestra a natural coupling in this series and
the latter very agreeable fodder for Claudius Tanski) and Berger.
The pertinent notes are by Matthias Schäfer. Rare repertoire here does
not mean short playing time. Two meaty rewarding works with highlights aplenty.