> DORATI Orchestral works [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Antal DORÁTI (1906-1988)
Sette Pezzi per orchestra (1961) [29.10]
Night Music for flute and small orchestra (1968) [22.36]
American Serenade for string orchestra (c.1941) [13.09]
Sharon Bezaly (flute)
Aalborg SO/Moshe Atzmon
rec: Dec 1999, May 2000, Aalborghallen, Aalborg, Sweden
BIS BIS-CD-1099 [66.12]


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Doráti is best known as a conductor. His complete Haydn symphonies box reigned supreme until the appearance of Adam Fischer's set on Brilliant Classics. Further back in time I recall his Sibelius tone poems collections on EMI (Luonnotar, Oceanides and Nightride and Sunrise).

Like Goossens, Markevitch and Furtwängler, Doráti was also a composer. He studied with Wiener and Kodaly in his twenties but his conducting activities suppressed the creative side until a full re-blooming of that side of his life in his fifties.

The Sette Pezzi is drawn from his ballet Magdalena. The string writing has the web-skein delicacy of Ravel and of early Schoenberg. The music is ever so subtly dissonant standing between say the harmonic pepper of Vaughan Williams' Sinfonia Antartica and Job and the scorch and sear of William Schuman's writing for massed strings. Passione is a good movement to sample. This music has unruly Stravinskian manners - Petrushka and The Rite rubbed down with astringent. The pieces have a symphonic manner and could easily be thought of as a rather eccentric symphony such is the visionary power by which they are galvanised.

Any thoughts that the flute/orchestra format might dictate that Night Music would be trivial or light are soon confounded. This is a work within the earnest nocturnal manner. Sharon Bezaly (whose BIS flute and piano recital I reviewed some three years ago) shows herself well matched to something outside the fluff and glitter world. This is psychologically subtle, melting between serenade, expressionistic dream, nightmare suggestion, regret and the losing of the self in the world of sleep. There are five movements. This would also work well with solo viola. If you have taken well to William Alwyn's works for chamber ensemble with flute then you will find this work well worth having.

Doráti fled Europe for the USA in front of the murderous bow-wave of Nazi invasions. Like Martinů and Karl Weigl he felt thankful to his saviour-nation. His American Serenade is an early tribute in two movements: Spiritual in which Hungarian folk music is blended with the Deep South and Dance - a Britten-like rondo. With those movement titles this might easily have been a work by Paul Creston. This is a much more straightforwardly expressed work than the other two works of twenty or so years later.

This disc augurs well for other Doráti CDs: BIS-CD-408 (Doráti Symphonies 1, 1956-57 and 2, 1985 - composer conducts Stockholm PO) and BIS-CD-578 (including Doráti Pater Noster).

The disc is well written up by Horst A Scholz.

For those who are interested I noticed a some months back that there was a copy of Dorati's autobiography 'Notes of Seven Decades' in the secondhand bookshop close to the library in Colchester, Essex. It has been there for years.

Two harmonically astringent potently imaginative works coupled with a bright and light-on-the-toes serenade.
Rob Barnett


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