This aptly compiled
disc brings together two Scottish-born
pianists who made their careers in Germany.
Both were Glaswegians and D’Albert the
older by four years and the more famous,
rising to the position of Joachim’s
successor as the director of the Musik
Hochschule in Berlin. Though d’Albert
never stopped his concert tours – dying
during one, in fact, in 1932 - composition
was a constant of his musical life whereas
Lamond never promoted his few compositions.
Unlike many of his pianistic-titan contemporaries
he was never a morceaux composer either
– that would not have appealed overmuch
to the Liszt student and acknowledged
to Esther is a rare example of
his orchestral music. Though he wrote
a Symphony and two Piano Concertos it
was as an operatic composer that he
achieved the greatest renown. The Overture
is a particularly good example of a
late-Romantic work shot through with
vestiges of Mendelssohnian influence.
There are some fine orchestral solos,
for cor anglais and good horn harmonies,
all richly orchestrated, and some of
the brass writing is reminiscent of
Beethoven’s in his overtures. It’s a
crisp, confident, unaffected work and
Lamond bears the lion’s
share of the disc though. His Symphony
in A major was his Op.3, begun when
he was in his early twenties and published
in 1893 in Frankfurt. It bears all the
marks of his Brahmsian inheritance and
of a thorough grounding in composition.
He spins a delightfully extended waltz
section in the first of the four movements,
with warm strings and a burnished melody
line; he can judge pacing, too, whipping
up the tempo at the movement’s conclusion.
There’s a bustly, forthright Scherzo
and a rather beautiful slow movement
with a Ländler feel to it which
Lamond allows to be cross-hit by some
doleful orchestral intimations only
to reprise the Ländler at the close,
touched with the briefest of hymnal
Amens. The finale is pretty much School
of Brahms but well crafted.
His next opus numbered
work was the Ouvertüre Aus Dem
Schottischen Hochlande, a perky
but broadly drawn and mountainously
expansive little pictorial piece. It’s
full of space and Lisztian drama – muted
brass calls across the valleys and the
odd saturnine moment imbibed from his
teacher in Weimar as well as moments
clearly admiringly absorbed from Smetana.
The Sword Dance is a fun piece with
plenty of drones and reels, colour and
Scottishry - it would make for a knees-up
The hard-working Brabbins
and the BBC Scottish prove fine tour
guides to this little-known repertoire.
Hyperion’s recorded sound is top notch,
the notes are excellent and the disc
explores an intriguing corner of the
repertoire with refreshing results.