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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, Op. 288 (c.1908) [9:58]
Patrick Gallois (flute, also conducting in Harp Concerto);
Fabrice Pierre (harp, also conducting in Flute Concerto, Ballade)
Swedish Symphony Orchestra
rec. 25-28 October 2004, Örebro Concert Hall, Sweden. DDD
NAXOS 8.557404 [55:27]

This is an interesting rarity that deserves some attention.
Reinecke was the son of a self-taught musician and had toured the continent as a pianist before settling down to composition. He was a contemporary of Mendelssohn and the Schumanns at Leipzig Conservatoire, and had Svendsen, Sullivan and Grieg as pupils. His concert work involved tours to England, Scandinavia and Russia where he, no doubt, exposed the concertgoers to his works. It is surprising to consider therefore that, despite all his travelling publicity, his reputation as composer wasn't more widely respected, but then even this prolific composer would have been overshadowed by the competition of much stronger talent found around him at the time.
The Harp Concerto is lightly orchestrated and opens in a sombre mood that gives no hint of the brighter horizons that later become apparent - after two minutes in. A meandering Allegro moderato does not immediately stamp an identity on the character of the work. From the second movement onwards, however, the composer settles down with good inspiration and we are aware of a pleasant work in the romantic vein. The hymn-like Adagio sets a sedate pace. Particularly attractive is the Scherzo-Finale, where short brass fanfares herald a gathering strength which carries overtones of Mendelssohn. Here virtuosic elements are underplayed in the scoring of the coda which causes the work to end without much impact. With unusual direction by the harpist, the excellent soloist and orchestra are well focused: the performance is good. Pierre is Harp professor at Lyon Conservatoire and has produced prize-winning performances.
The Flute Concerto is a much more secure work. The flute has a dominating presence from the outset, the melody lines are stronger and the concerto's colours are better layered. Twenty-four years after his Harp concerto, one is aware of Reinecke's greater maturity, characterized by a more florid approach. A competent opening movement holds the listener's attention. Continuity in the Lento e mesto is provided by heavy 'footsteps' delivered by the double-basses. This provides the underlying rhythm to an elegant flute line, later enhanced by the remainder of the strings. Carrying a hint of the second movement's rhythm, the Finale: Moderato is particularly haunting with a charming flute melody. This is another good performance by the soloist. Gallois has developed an international conducting career after forming his own Paris-based orchestra. From 2003 he has been Musical Director of the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä.
Unfortunately the Ballade is not particularly inspired and lacks a robust theme for it to be memorable.
The recordings are adequate, yet in the second concerto the flute is not brought forward enough: its ambience is rather thin and could have benefited from additional reverberation. Noticing this, I went back to the Harp concerto and felt the same was true, but to a lesser extent. Although prominently focused the harp might have benefited if given a wider ambience.
Adequate notes on the composer's background and concertos by Keith Anderson are provided in English, German and French. Detailed biographies are included for the two soloist conductors.
Raymond J Walker


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