Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Symphony in G Major (1872) [38.55]
Piano Concerto (1886) [31.46]
Claudius Tanski (piano)
Wuppertal SO/George Hanson
rec 21-24 June, 16-17 Aug 1999, Stadthalle, Wuppertal
MD&G 335 0929-2 [70.47]

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 flourishes.

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.

Rob Barnett

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit