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CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline


Julius RÖNTGEN (1855-1932)
Symphony No. 10 in D Walzersymphonie (1930) [9:48]
Symphonietta Humoristica (1922) [17:24]
Three Preludes and Fugues [18:08]
Suite – Oud-Nederland [9:48]
Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz/David Porcelijn
rec. Ludwigshafen, Philharmonie, 27-31 March 2007. DDD
CPO 777308-2 [63:19] 
Experience Classicsonline

Friend of Brahms and Grieg, Röntgen was a pupil of Lachner. He wrote eighteen symphonies of which the Seventh was championed by Tovey in Edinburgh in 1930 and the Eighth by Schuricht in Scheveningen in 1931. CPO, with inspiring confidence, plan to record all of them with the redoubtable and versatile David Porcelijn. It was not all that long ago that Porcelijn was conducting the symphonies and overtures of John Veale on BBC Radio 3.

CPO's presentation of the Austrian composer Joseph Marx has contrasted the lighter effusions with the more saturated lyrical and epic works. The present Röntgen disc pits a jollier and undemanding manner against the earnest and deeply satisfying lyricism and mastery of the Dutch composer’s Faust and Symphony No. 3. Yes there is a symphony here but it is a poetic romp of a waltz symphony. It's romantic and seems to step out from the delightful innocence of Schubert's first two symphonies pausing only for a nod of respect towards Franz Schmidt's Husarenlied Variations. The Sinfonietta Humoristica is memorable among other things for its romping brass and accessible chummy manner. It's like a slightly more blatant and brassy version of Prokofiev's Classical Symphony. At other moments you might crudely describe the music as early Richard Strauss out of Haydn in cassation mode. The Three Preludes and Fugues and the Oud-Nederland suite variously move between lovingly dainty, trudging and plunging endeavour, quietly adumbrated silvery violins and delicate and intricate fugal figures pecked out in pewter and silk. At times the horn-writing recalls the sour yet almost self-effacing tragedy of the trumpet line at the start of Schmidt's Fourth Symphony. There is time however for a Röntgen to recover himself for a bluff and almost Hungarian strut and a lovingly shaped French horn solo set amid a canvas worthy of caramel-smooth Bach transcription. 

The lighter Röntgen here counterbalances his grander romantic tendencies. It’s like comparing Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme music to Rosenkavalier.

Rob Barnett


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