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Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Harp Concerto in E minor, Op. 182 (1884) [24:09]
Flute Concerto in D major, Op. 283 (1908) [21:19]
Ballade for flute and orchestra, Op. 288 (c.1908) [9:58]
Fabrice Pierre (harp)
Patrick Gallois (flute)
Swedish Chamber Orchestra/Fabrice Pierre; Patrick Gallois (Harp Concerto)
rec. 25-28 October 2004, Örebro Concert Hall, Sweden. DDD
NAXOS 8.557404 [55:27]
 


I was not too familiar with the name of Carl Reinecke before receiving this release but I did remember that he was the teacher of several composers that were well known to me. These included, most notably: Max Bruch; Edvard Grieg; Emil von Rezniček; Christian Sinding; Arthur Sullivan; Charles Villiers Stanford; Leos Janácek; Frederick Delius; Max Bruch; Edvard Grieg; Johan Svendsen; Isaac Albéniz and Felix Weingartner.
 
Reinecke was born in the town of Altona on the River Elbe, then an important harbour town in Denmark, but now a district of the German city of Hamburg. The year of Reinecke’s birth 1824 is significant in music history in that it is same birth year as Bruckner and Smetana. I am pleased that Naxos with this issue has provided me with opportunity to hear three concertante scores from this versatile composer who has experienced years of virtual neglect. It is also gratifying that Naxos has chosen as soloists the renowned French performers and conductors, flautist Patrick Gallois and harpist Fabrice Pierre. 
 
A quick check on Reinecke’s career revealed that he was a child prodigy on the piano, also played the violin and in addition to performing he began composing at an early age. He embarked on his first concert tour in 1843 and three years later was appointed as Pianist to the Danish Court, where he remained until 1848. In 1860 he moved to Leipzig in Germany, where he conducted the Gewandhaus concerts until 1895 and taught composition at the Conservatory until 1902. One of his most notable conducting accomplishments came in 1869 when he was entrusted with the first performance of Brahms’s German Requiem.   
 
Reinecke’s international career as conductor, accompanist, teacher and composer gave him an esteemed reputation in his day that was in some ways on the same level as that of Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt. He was a prolific composer writing over three hundred works in most genres. In addition to many piano works and much chamber music I noticed three symphonies; four piano concertos, which is not surprising owing to his prowess on the instrument, and also grand and comic operas. He was exceptionally well connected having met Franz Liszt; Hector Berlioz; Felix Mendelssohn; Robert and Clara Schumann; Niels Gade; Ferdinand Hiller and Johannes Brahms.
 
For many years the Reinecke works that were most likely to be encountered were the Flute Sonata in E major, Op. 167 Undine’ and his Flute Concerto in D major, Op. 283 but now a variety of his scores have been recorded joining the ever-expanding record catalogues.
 
The opening work on this release is the Harp Concerto, Op. 182. Composed by Reinecke in 1884 and cast in three movements it is scored for harp with pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets and four French horns, timpani and strings.
 
The soloist is Fabrice Pierre who acquits himself superbly. In every respect his performance feels well nigh perfect. He gives a happy and carefree reading of the opening movement allegro moderato where Reinecke could easily have been reminiscing about a walking expedition in the Bavarian mountains. In Pierre’s hands the glorious adagio is lyrical and heartfelt. In addition to the harp part there is considerable employment given to the strings in this movement. The expert soloist provides a swift pace in the scherzo-finale, convincingly and confidently drawing the listener into Reinecke’s sound world. The dancing figures between 3.45-4.04 reminded me of a Mendelssohnian world of fairytale enchantment. Throughout the score orchestra and conductor provide the soloist with thoroughly sympathetic support.
 
I am extremely pleased with this Naxos account, however, I have been hearing excellent reports of advance copies of a forthcoming rival version of the Harp Concerto which may be worth investigating. The performers are harpists Emmanuel Ceysson and Xavier de Maistre with the Rheinland-Pfalz State Philharmonic Orchestra/Hannu Lintu on the Swiss label Claves CD 50-2607. The coupling is Albert Zabel’s Concerto for Harp and Orchestra in C Minor, Op. 35 and Parish-Alvars’s Concerto for 2 Harps and Orchestra in D Minor, Op. 91. 
 
The three movement Flute Concerto, Op. 283 dates from 1908 and is one of Reinecke’s final compositions. Reinecke orchestrated the concerto for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons, trumpets, four French horns, timpani, assorted percussion and strings. We are told in the accompanying notes that, “There exist various discrepancies between the orchestral and solo scores of this work. The version recorded on this CD is Patrick Gallois’ own adaptation, which has its basis in both versions.
 
Probably composed in 1908 the Ballade for flute and orchestra, Op. 288 is another late work. In Keith Anderson’s view the single movement score, “uses a title that suggests, at least, literary content.” For these performances of the Flute Concerto and the Ballade the soloist and conductor change places from the opening work, with Patrick Gallois now as flute soloist.
 
The flute is extremely busy in the opening movement of the Flute Concerto where Gallois is controlled and thoughtful. In this allegro movement in addition to the harp part Reinecke has written a significant role for the brass. The slow movement is generally relaxed with the expressive Gallois almost continually employed, the flute line floating gracefully through the often dense orchestration. In the finale: moderato, a movement with considerable virtuoso display, the soloist Gallois is excitable and high-spirited taking the demands easily in his stride. With the ten minute long Ballade for flute and orchestra Gallois provides a sulky and despondent mood in Reinecke’s robust and richly dark orchestral textures. I was impressed with the way Gallois, at point 3:22, expertly switches the atmosphere to one of spirited child-like excitement. In both the Flute Concerto and the Ballade Gallois is given lively and detailed support orchestra and conductor.
 
The recorded sound from the Örebro Concert Hall in Sweden is first class and I was especially pleased by the clarity and balance provided by Naxos engineer Sean Lewis. The annotation from Keith Anderson is to a high standard, reasonably concise and highly informative. The playing time of fifty-five minutes is not over-generous but here the quality of the performances take precedence. This is rewarding if little known late-Romantic music that is well worth exploring. I believe the Harp Concerto to be a major work and this Naxos release is a gem waiting to be unearthed. 
 
Michael Cookson

see also review by Raymond Walker
 


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