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Hermann HALLER (1914 – 2002)
Concerto for Flute, Clarinet and String Orchestra (1961)
Wladimir VOGEL (1896 – 1984)

Concertino for Flute and String Orchestra (1979)
Robert BLUM (1900 – 1994)

Concertino for Clarinet and String Orchestra (1974)
Hans SCHAEUBLE (1906 – 1988)

Concertino for Flute and String Orchestra Op.47 (1959)
Philipp Jundt (flute); Elisabeth Häfliger (clarinet)
Camerata Zürich/Räto Tschupp
Recorded: Radio Studio Zürich, October 2001 (Blum, Haller) and January 2002 (Vogel, Schaeuble)
GUILD GMCD 7250 [56:47]
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I must admit that these four Swiss/German composers were completely new to me. Listening to their music potentially necessitates a dip into four contrasting and probably challenging sound-worlds. I wasn’t expecting to find that they would be very similar to each other although as one comes to read the biographies this becomes less of a surprise.

I wasn’t too surprised to find that Hans Haller had at one time been a pupil of Hindemith. The three movements of his double concerto have certain traits such as neo-classical melodic turns in cadences, which seem to typify the style. In the concerto there is much attractive interplay between the soloists and much polyphonic writing in general, the strings contributing jagged counterpoint of their own between phrases. The first movement is the most substantial in length but the Adagio second movement has an overwhelming sense of tragedy in weaving, sinewy lines. The Finale beginning with trills from the soloists seems no more than mere note-spinning as indeed I feel can Hindemith.

Wladimir Vogel’s Concertino is in one movement but two sections, Tempo libero and Lento quieto. He was born in Moscow but to a German father, living in Berlin and later in Switzerland, studying for a time with Busoni. I felt the influence here on Vogel of Busoni’s eccentric, chromatic and wide melodic lines as in his Concertino for flute and orchestra of 1920. But also I felt that Vogel’s ideas tended towards the short-winded and had little to make them memorable.

The CD is a co-production between "the Camerata Zurich, the Hans Schaeuble Foundation and the Zentralbibliothek Zurich". Not surprisingly Schaeuble’s piece takes an important position at the end of the CD. I wish that I could report that I find this five movement work individual. Although it is not unattractive or uninteresting it fails to make its mark or its presence felt or to have a distinctive profile. Its chromatic lines weave and fight with little change of colour. The movements are nicely inter-linked and the third, a moderato, with its jagged dotted rhythms is vaguely neo-classical. In the Intermezzo fourth movement, a solo violin weaves its lines with the flautist and the language is being unlike that found in the concertos of Berthold Goldschmidt.

Robert Blum was born in Zurich and was a fellow student of Kurt Weill. His single movement Concertino begins in dramatic manner with a low string motif and a quizzical clarinet answer. Soon after, an uncertain pizzicato passage begins over which the clarinet adds scalic melodies and trills. Then there follows a passage in harmonics and later a curious passage using quartertones. I was not surprised to read that Blum has written much film music. The work is only twelve minutes in duration and is full of arresting ideas but again nothing about it is in any way individual. It fits into the profile of the CD as a whole so that one cannot easily tell one composer from another.

Full marks for enterprise to the Jersey based company Guild, and to the conductor the late Räto Tschupp who died just a few works after making this disc, as did Hermann Haller. Tschupp obtains wonderful precision out of the string players and gets from the scores everything that he can to bring them alive. This CD therefore makes a fitting tribute to a fine conductor and an outstanding musician who is much missed.

Recordings are in quiet passages a little recessed and so you may need to turn the volume up higher than usual. The booklet notes with photographs are quite adequate but bearing in mind the unique nature of this music a little more detail would have been useful.

Gary Higginson

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