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.