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Hermann BISCHOFF (1868-1936)
Symphony No. 2 in D minor (1912) [43:07]
Introduktion und Rondo (1926) [16:04]
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/Werner Andreas Albert
rec. Ludwigshafen, Philharmonie, 20-23 February, 2 April 2006. DDD
CPO 777 206-2 [59:23]
Experience Classicsonline

Perhaps the First Symphony by Bischoff is reminiscent of Richard Strauss. That’s what Paul Cook thought when in 2006 he reviewed the First Symphony partner to this CPO release. The First Symphony is longer – more than fifteen minutes longer. It reminded Paul of Till Eulenspiegel, of Don Juan and of Don Quixote. That’s no surprise as Bischoff idolized Strauss who was a life-long friend and supporter.
Bischoff’s Second Symphony is from six years later and although there is the occasional Straussian episode the style has moved on. In fairness, it’s not really all that original. Originality is over-rated anyway – what’s the point in being first to do something when the results do not captivate or inspire or even charm. The Symphony is in the tradition of nineteenth century pastoral pleasure. The composer is not as grand as his friend Hausegger – to whom he dedicated the Second Symphony – but he does write very pleasingly. True, there is little of tragic urgency. You might even say that the music gives off a certain smiling complacency. It’s broadly speaking Brahmsian – yet, not. The idiom is redolent of Bruckner 4; that rustic regality punctuated with rhetorical brass flourishes which CPO here capture in vibrant golden sound. It is vaguely in the confluence of Dvořák 7, Schumann’s Rhenish, Brahms 2 and Mahler 4. Gusts of wind shake the heights of the forest but not the soul which stays secure and confident, rooted deeply in the South German temperament. This is a work without sourness or disillusion. Instead it speaks of the idealistic, the benign and the Palladian.

The Introduktion and Rondo, his last orchestral work, is more Delian yet nuanced with foreboding which it only casts aside in the Rondo. It’s very well done by CPO in all the production and documentary aspects. I am now curious about the First Symphony but Paul Cook has beaten me to it.
Rob Barnett


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