Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Schelomo Hebraic Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra (1916) [20:25]
Voice in the Wilderness Symphonic Poem with cello obbligato (1936) [27:56]
Robert OBOUSSIER (1900-1957)
Antigone (Recitative, aria and elegy after Sophocles) (1938-39) [15:38]
Walther GEISER (1897-1993)
Symphony in D minor, Op. 44 (1953) [15:35]
Elsa Cavelti (alto), Zara Nelsova (cello).
L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Ernest Ansermet
rec. Kingsway Hall, London, UK, March 1955 (Bloch); Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, October 1954 (Oboussier), May 1955 (Geiser). Mono. ADD
DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 0814 [80:01]

Eloquence continue - with Universal's connivance - to lay bare the Decca cupboard. This time they reach towards the back of the deep Ansermet shelf. Before the Mehta there was Ansermet and Nelsova's Bloch LP in mono. Her Schelomo has a surprising payload of richness of sound and certainly Nelsova has deep reserves of passion which flows tirelessly. The Voice in the Wilderness dates from twenty years after Schelomo. It is in six shortish movements all of which are glisteningly exotic in Bloch's most smoky oriental-Semitic manner. Its ideas register pleasingly but lack the intrinsic memorable qualities of those engaged in Schelomo. The raging orchestration rather points up the age of the recording.

Speaking of which the Oboussier Antigone - a song cycle for alto and orchestra - sounds even more strained from an audio-technical standpoint. Born in Antwerp he was a pupil of Busoni initiate, Philipp Jarnach. His First String Quartet was played in Donaueschingen in 1923. Begun in Berlin and completed in Montreux in 1939, Antigone has a grandly scathing Mahlerian accent. This becomes almost Bachian-Finzi cantabile in the central Aria. The triptych comes to a close with an Elegy which mixes headlong sprint with temperate, honeyed-regretful lines and Bergian overtones. The tape shivers and cycles after years of storage. This can be distracting both in the last song and also in the string writing of the first. Fascinating work though. In fact are there any tape collectors out there with recordings of Oboussier's other works? Elsa Cavelti is a securely anchored alto. The words of the Oboussier are printed in the sung German and in English translation - well done Eloquence!

Geiser was born in Switzerland and studied in Basel and Berlin. There are various works for orchestra including a 1930 Violin Concerto and this 1953 Symphony. The Symphony has a clean, folksy accent wrapped around a manner part neo-classical, part Pfitzner-romantic and part Franz Schmidt in blustering rustic mood. It was premiered in 1954 in Basel.

A fascinating collection.

Rob Barnett

A fascinating generously timed collection including some very out of the way music.