Ernst KRENEK (1900-1991)
Symphony No. 4, Op. 113 (1947) [30:26]
Concerto Grosso, Op. 25 No. 2 (1924) [26:52]
Volker Worlitzsch (violin), Dimitar Penkov (viola), Nikolai Schneider (cello)
NDR Radiophilharmonie/Alun Francis
rec. 27 Feb 3 March 2006, Grosser Sendesaal des NDR Landesfunkhaus Niedersachsen. DDD
World Premiere Recording (4)
CPO 777 210 2 [57:24]

Krenek is so much more than Jonny Spielt Auf. CPO have opened the door on the symphonies. Indeed they did so as long ago as 1993-95. Their CDs of the symphonies from the NDR Radiophilharmonie with Takao Ukigaya are: 999 359-2 (1 and 5); 999 255-2 (2); 999 236-2 (3).

The obvious lacuna was the Fourth Symphony. It's performing materials and score had gone missing and were thought lost until five years ago when the Krenek Institute found the score in America.

Somewhat along the lines of Frank Bridge his style chameleoned with the twists and turns of musical mores. He began, according to Philipp Weber's notes, in the embrace of his teacher Schreker and moved with every development until he largely ceased writing in 1989 two years short of his death.

Mitropoulos premiered the Fourth Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 1947 three months after completion. The first of the three movements is angry, volatile and explosive after a prefatory pastoral poem. The middle movement is dynamic, flightily dissonant and gently and nostalgically melancholy. Angular vituperation characterises the finale with exciting writing recalling William Schuman but more unforgivingly acidic and excoriating.

From the mid-1920s and premiered in Zurich under Volkmar Andreae comes the typically spiky, gum-booted Regerian and neo-classical Concerto Grosso op. 25 No. 2. It shivers with collegiate soloistic detail. The dissonance is not yet present just a shade of stinging vitriol. The second movement adagio and fourth movement andante have outgrown the determination and activity of the first movement and sing with an affecting almost Brahmsian sincerity through the solo instruments. The writing here is of the highest quality and is strikingly predictive of the melos of late Tippett.

These two works are, as with so many pieces of music, in debt to convention but the symphony has some magnificent moments especially at the start of the first movement. Of similar exalted quality are the slow movements of the Concerto Grosso in which real enchantment is attained. Very impressive indeed.

Not to forget this Capriccio CD:

Rob Barnett

Real enchantment is attained. Very impressive indeed.