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Lodewijk MORTELMANS (1868-1952)
Homerische symfonie (1898) [45:13]
Morgenstemming 'Morning Mood' (1922) [12'42]
Mythe der lente 'Myth of Spring' (1895) [10'47]
Royal Flemish Philharmonic/Martyn Brabbins
rec. September 2008, Koningin Elisabethzaal, Antwerp, Belgium
HYPERION CDA67766 [66:41]
Experience Classicsonline

Mortelmans writes in a language that suggests a synthesis of mature Tchaikovsky, ripe Schumann and, perhaps inevitably, Franck. He is very much the late-romantic nationalist. That's certainly the impression made by his big burly romantic Homerisch Symfonie. It's in four movements:

1. Van de helden 'Of the heroes' [11:00]
2. Herinneringen aan Patroklos' dood 'Memories of Patroklos's death' [11:47]
3. Sirenengespeel en gezang 'Sirens playing and singing' [11:41]
4. De genius van Hellas 'The genius of Hellas' [8:44]

The first of these movements has a kinship with the surging subjectivism of the Glazunov symphonies – especially the Fourth which itself has been superbly recorded by Serebrier on Warner Classics. After a heartfelt second movement (Memories of Patroklos Death) comes a blessedly fly-away Sirens playing and singing with melodic woodwind dancing over skipping strings. The finale is largely stately with some passionate almost Elgarian episodes interspersed. This music has grandeur aplenty.

Morning Mood dates from almost a quarter century before the Symphony. It is a slow blooming yet piercingly passionate piece shot through with Wagnerian gestures (3:55).

The symphony has a third movement to vie with the best of Mendelssohn (Midsummer Night's Dream), Berlioz (Queen Mab) and Bridge (Story of my Life) at their flyaway best and Mortelmans returns to the same sustaining source for his Mythe der Lente. In this and elsewhere on this disc he evinces kinship with the Kouchka and especially with Borodin. Mythe der Lente is craggy and exciting. It’s not quite in the same league as Bridge’s Enter Spring but it’s in that region - florid and exultant.

If you have a warm place in your heart for Glazunov then this new name should be right up your street.

This to me completely unfamiliar music is presented with real style by Hyperion, by Brabbins and his orchestra and by the liner-note writer Tom Janssens.

Rob Barnett



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