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Crystal Records

Theodore BLUMER (1881-1964)
Wind Chamber Music: volume 2

Schweizer Quintett (1953). Kinderspielzeug, Op.64 fur Blaserquintett. Sextett (Kammersinfonie) Op. 92 (1941).
Moran Woodwind Quintet. Paul Barnes (piano).
No recording venue or dates given

Despite the dates of their composition, these works belong to the late 19th century, so full-blooded is their Romanticism. Theodore Blumer, a composer new to me, graduated from the Dresden Conservatory and worked as a teacher, pianist and director of the Dresden Radio Orchestra and then the Middle German Radio Orchestra in Leipzig. The useful notes suggest that his popularity ‘has grown steadily in America since the 1980s’.

The most substantial piece is the ‘Symphony’ of 1941, which includes the piano to alleviate, to my ears, the rather monochrome textures of the wind band. Cast in four movements it runs to over 36 minutes and shows that Blumer mastered large-scale structures; the most successful movement is the melancholic Andante sostenuto. This contrasts with the miniatures of the ‘Swiss Suite’, a 12 movement work lasting less than 19 minutes and including a theme and seven variations.

As might be expected, the Kinderspielzeug (‘Children’s toys’), which includes a movement where toy soldiers are marching only to be knocked over, then picked up to resume their parade, is the lightest of the music on this disc. Such programmatic composition shows Blumer’s affinity with Richard Strauss, a contemporary who was also working within the Romantic idiom, even as late as the Second World War. Anyone who enjoys Strauss’s late works, such as the Oboe Concerto, is likely to enjoy this disc.

The recorded sound is excellent and the playing very good. The tone of Allen French’s French horn is particularly beguiling.

Nick Lacey

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