Foerster's gently emphatic
muse has gradually returned to the listening public's attention.
The Fourth Symphony has been recorded some four times, most
recently as part of MDG's complete sequence of the five symphonies.
His operas Eva
and The Lantern
have been recorded
by Supraphon over the years.
The present disc is one of
a series of BBC-Supraphon collaborations. We have seen them
before with various Martinů items and the presence of
Bĕlohlávek as principal conductor of the BBCSO bodes
well for more, I hope.
Foerster is not one for excoriating
passions. For him, on the heard evidence, we are not addressing
a Tchaikovskian disciple of the passions. No Francesca
here. Foerster is more attuned to Dvořák.
The symphonies are agitated and exuberant but the intensity
never goes beyond the heat of Dvorak's Seventh and Eight
symphonies or Othello
; nothing wrong with that. The
pleasing First Violin Concerto can best be cross-referenced
close to the Dvořák Violin Concerto with cross-fertilisation
from say the Delius Concerto. The lyrical-meditative is in
the ascendant. The finale is a sweetly gracious dancing figure
which might have escaped from some summery flower festival.
The audience's warm applause is included in the case of No.
1. The note-writer tells us that this Concerto is closely
linked to his opera The Unvanquished
in which the
central character is a composer and violinist - so autobiographical
elements may be expected. The work is dedicated to Jan Kubelik
who premiered the work in Chicago with Frederick Stock on
12 October 1910.
The Second Concerto was premiered
in Brno by Karel Hoffmann on 19 January 1927. In fact, the
work having emerged eight years after the end of the Great
War, I detect a deeper emotional note. This is Brahms meets
Delius. We hear a rhapsodic tender and spontaneous flowing
grace rather like Bruch. The finale has the same playful
countenance as the equivalent in the first concerto. The
work has the same mien as the still puzzlingly unrecorded
Violin Concerto by Haydn Wood.
Two cantabile late romantic
violin concertos which avoid the emotional hothouse.