This is a tremendously
interesting disc. The care lavished
on two premiere recordings inspires
so much respect in this reviewer. I
see there are three backers’ logos on
the back of the CD, which may help to
explain the financing. This is in effect
a companion disc to Hol’s Symphonies
Nos. 1 and 3 on CHAN9796 (review).
There are echoes of
and Dvořák in both of the present
works. The layout of the Second Symphony
is traditional – slow introduction to
first movement; Adagio (subtitled ‘Preghiera’),
Scherzo and Finale. Mendelssohn is present
in abundance in the Presto Scherzo;
very on-the-toes in this performance.
Bamert and his orchestra
relish the opportunity to act as advocates
for this music and the Chandos engineers
have produced a top-flight recording.
The mysterious slow introduction leads
to an active, determined Allegro molto
agitato. Definition in the strings is
excellent. This is nicely constructed
music, most affectionately played.
The Adagio (‘Preghiera’)
begins in a deeply peaceful vein, and
flows wonderfully throughout its ten-minute
duration, chiefly because Bamert has
found the tempo giusto. Bamert goes
for the intense approach in the finale,
which initially I believed to be too
much so, yet it works, especially when
the contrast of the Mendelssohnian Scherzo
reappears around 2’30.
The Fourth Symphony
is in a bright and sunny A major and
accordingly dispenses with the need
for a shadowy slow introduction. Instead
Hol opts for a more approachable Andante
prior to the main Allegro moderato.
This is extrovert music.
Hol has a written-out
slow introduction for the Presto; i.e.
using longer note values to imply this
tempo, or so I assume from the booklet
notes. There is a Dvořák connection
here – Dvořák in his energy-drenched
mode, that is. There are distinctly
darker shadows right at the end, presumably
to lead into the interior slow
movement. This is a glorious piece and
is exquisitely played by the Hague orchestra.
The finale is festive, bringing to this
reviewer’s mind Schumann’s ‘Rhenish’
The playing time is
on the low side; only just over an hour.
I see Hol wrote an opera called Floris
V (1892) – does this have an overture?
Could it have been extracted, I wonder?
No matter. This is an excellent disc
that merits investigation.