Fritz BRUN (1878-1959)
Symphony No. 6 in (1933) [33:52]
Symphony No. 7 in (1939) [40:41]
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
rec. May 2008 (6); No 2010 (7) Mosfilm Studios, Moscow. DDD
GUILD GMCD 7372 [74:33]
Fritz Brun shared broadly the same dates as Sibelius and Vaughan Williams. That places him in time. As for the music, its genetic fibre is tonal and melts at times, and without violence, into a subtle early Schoenbergian dissonance. This is music that carries strong traces of Schubert and Brahms - the latter especially in No. 7 but adds the spice of dissonance - the patina of Franz Schmidt and Max Reger.
This Swiss composer has found an exemplary champion in Adriano. This composer-conductor has evangelised for the meritorious neglected from the outset when he recorded Respighi and European film music for Marco Polo. He clearly holds a torch for Brun's ten symphonies. Recorded for Guild are symphonies 5 and 10 (GMCD 7320) and 9 and the Job tone poem (GMCD 7306).
The Sixth embraces the long singing line but peppers it with grim Mussorgskian dances and mixes in the Franz Schmidt of the Husarenlied Variations. If Brun has a tendency to Regerian severity - he too wrote a Symphonic Prologue - it is easily forgivable. Another voice stands out in the melos and that is a divertimento spirit reminiscent of the Brahms Haydn Variations. The finale seems troubled by devils of angular conflict even if they are appeased by the emollient of consolatory melody amid the gawky Mussorgskian progress. The 1939 Seventh is extremely and instantly impressive. The Schoeck melodic gift, the acrid poignancy of Schmidt, a tinge of Elgarian melancholia and even a Hollywood lushness - they all meet in a work that pulls no emotional punches. It might be thought of as a sort of relaxed counterpart to Schmidt's Fourth Symphony without quite the same caustic tragedy. It's intensely fine - very touching, roundedly lyrical, affectionate and affecting. Quite a discovery.
The extensive notes are by the conductor, as edited by Ian Lace who shares Adriano's advocacy for the rarer Respighi and has been a leading light in the musical world since the 1970s. He has been and continues to be a leading light in this site and was so from our earliest days.
On this showing I hope it will not be long before we hear Brun's four string quartets (1898, 1921, 1943, 1949), cello sonata (1952), a piano quintet (1902), two violin sonatas (1920, 1951), concertos, one each for cello (1947) and for piano (1946).
For now let us keep our fingers crossed that Guild and Adriano will also turn to the other five symphonies, especially the Eighth.
A sometimes halting, sometimes fluent European champion of the urgent lyrical tradition.