Paul GRAENER (1872-1944)
Wiener Sinfonie op. 110 (1941) [24:18]
Die Flöte von Sanssouci - suite for flute and chamber orchestra op. 88 (1930) [16:52]
Turmwächterlied op. 107 (1938) [15:56]
Flute Concerto op. 116 (1942?) [15:21]
Andrea Knoop (flute) (op. 88); Cornelia Grohmann (flute) (op. 116)
Philharmonisches Orchester Altenburg-Gera/Eric Solén
rec. Konzertsaal der Bühnen der Stadt Gera, Germany 16-19 March 2009. DDD.
world premiere recordings
STERLING CDS-1090-2 [72:34]

Berlin was Paul Graener’s city of birth although over a longish he career he also lived in London, Vienna, Dresden, Berlin and Munich. He joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and rode high in the Reichsmusikkammer. His Berling flat and most of his possessions were destroyed by bombing in 1944. He died in Salzburg.

He wrote eight operas the first being The Faithful Sentry which was premiered in 1899 and the last Der Prinz von Homburg (1935). There are four String Quartets (1920-28) and some 130 songs. The orchestral works include: Sinfonietta for Strings and Harp (1910), Symphony in D Minor Schmied Schmerz (1912), Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra (1927) and the Variationen über Prinz Eugen (1939).

His music is plush and attains a certain grandeur, complacency and repletion in the Wiener Sinfonie. Its style is roundedly Straussian with woodwind birdsong and even the occasional Mahlerian echo. The tenderly romantic aspects of Schumann’s music can be felt in the middle movement of the Wiener Sinfonie. The finale has a grunting, heavy-booted euphoric emphasis - rugged and imposing. The symphony was premiered in 1941 by Hans Knappertsbusch with the Berlin Philharmonic. The Die Flöte von Sanssouci is a suite for flute and orchestra of four movements with baroque titles. The weighty Regerian textures provide a carpet for Graener’s dialogue between Bachian discipline and late-romantic excess. A ringing harpsichord features in the work’s Gavotte and Air. While the final Rigaudon looks forward to the Mahlerian sauntering of the first movement of the Wiener Sinfonie. The Turmwächterlied is a work of sable expression and shaded preoccupation. It abjures neo-Bachian density and instead embraces a sort of suffocating Germanic Respighian romance. The score for Turmwächterlied is prefaced by Goethe’s poem Zum sehen geboren from Part II of Faust. The Flute Concerto is a gracious lilting and darting creature - Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme meets Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin.

The lucidly informative note is by Knut Andreas.

This is, at its best, gravely impressive music with the Turmwächterlied and the charming Flute Concerto standing out in this company.

Rob Barnett

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NOTE: J. Giroudet writes to say that there are in fact six string quartets by Graener, their opus numbers being: 3; 18; 33; 54; 65 and 80.