Tubin's reputation rests on his ten symphonies of which
numbers four and six are the most accessible. Warner have here squirrelled
together three works from disparate sources. None of them are symphonies
and two of them present Tubin the writer of concertos. The Concertino
is not at all the light masquerade you might expect; in fact the diminutive
must surely refer to its brevity rather than its mood. The single movement
Concertino was written in the year after Tubin had to emigrate
from Estonia to Sweden. It is a work in which the clangorous eloquence,
sweep and wheel of Prokofiev's First Piano Concerto meets a tragic romanticism
derived from Rachmaninov. Volmer and the Estonian orchestra are in process
of recording the complete Tubin symphonies for Alba. Three CDs have
already been issued. Music for Strings is a work from
almost twenty years later, in which textures have been thinned and,
pace the notes, this is much more neo-classically accented than
the Concertino. In its trudge and lilt the work recalls Wirén
(listen to the allegro tr. 3) but it is not short of bleakness
as in the silvery-grey contours of the final movement. The Flute
Concerto started out as a sonata for flute and cello. It was
orchestrated by Charles Coleman in 1995 and appears here in that form.
Tubin learnt the flute during his days as the family's cowherd in the
early 1910s. This is not complex music. Simplicity allows the naturally
suave melodic heart of the flute to sing and dance without dilution
or cloy. Two slowish movements of warm contented reflection buttress
a dancing Vivace. I get the impression that this recording is
issued for the first time as part of this collection. The performances
and recordings are sympathetic.
The notes are perfectly adequate and full discographical
details are given.
This is a Tubin triptych representative of three life-phases:
neo-romantic heroism; neo-classical restraint and singing simplicity.