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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



FREDERIK van ROSSUM (born 1939)
Réquisitoire Op.28 (1973)a
Eloquences Op.39 (1980)b
Symphonie Concertante Op.11 (1966/7)c
André De Groote (piano)c; Francis Orval (horn)bc; National Orchestra of Belgium; Brian Priestmanab; Frederik Devreesec
Recording information not provided by reviewer
RENE GAILLY RG 86008 [51:55]

Rene Gailly

Van Rossumís Symphonie Concertante Op.11 is actually his first essay in the genre. (His second symphony Amnesty Symphony Op.38 for soloists, chorus and orchestra dates from 1980 and is hitherto unrecorded, and his third one Le Souffle de Némésis Op.48 was composed in 1981 for the bi-centenary of the French Revolution.) It was commissioned by the then BRTN (i.e. the Flemish Radio) and completed in 1966. Though originally planned for large orchestra, the scoring had to be reduced to strings and percussion to meet the forces available at the time of the first performance which was conducted by Frederik Devreese with the composer and Francis Orval as soloists. However, the composer soon re-scored the piece for full orchestra and it was then duly recorded by the present performers in 1970 (CULTURA 5069-3, re-issued in Belgium). Though by no means his first orchestral piece, the Symphonie Concertante Op.11 is a brilliant, virtuoso concerto for orchestra in which horn and piano rather act as primus inter pares than as real soloists. Its three substantial movements (a conflict-ridden first movement followed by a dark, ruminating slow meditation capped by an exuberant, dancing finale) encompass a huge range of emotions and abound with van Rossum fingerprints.

Réquisitoire Op.28 (1973) for brass and percussion earned its composer the First Prize at UNESCOís 1981 International Composers Forum. It is van Rossumís most radical work so far. In this powerfully gripping score, van Rossum uses his assembled forces to the full and relies on a wide range of contemporary techniques to achieve stunning expressive impact such as menacing, ominous glissandi or panic-stricken controlled aleatory. (Varèse may sometimes be called to mind here). The mood of the piece is eerie, awesome, violent, emotionally charged though utterly communicative and deeply human. This is undoubtedly his most personal statement and one of his most impressive achievements.

Eloquences Op.39, composed in 1980, was written at the request of Francis Orval as test piece for the first Concours International de Cor held in Liège in 1981. A concerto in all but the name, Eloquences is a set of studies for horn and orchestra exploiting the various characteristics of the instrument, in turn declamatory, lyrical, exuberantly agile while exploring a wide range of moods and emotions. A wonderful piece, technically demanding but again warmly communicative and highly rewarding.

These recordings were also first made during the LP era and still sound remarkably well, even if the recording of the Symphonie Concertante inevitably shows its age. The performances are excellent. This release provides for a fine survey of van Rossumís varied orchestral output and is therefore heartily recommended.

Hubert Culot


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