Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962)
Symphony in C, op.31 (1919) [28:21]
Notturno and Scherzo, op.30 (1918) [12:05]
Music for Orchestra, op.35 (1929) [10:52]
Kleine Suite, op.27 (1917) [15:34]
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Marc Andreae
rec. The Lighthouse, Poole, England, 1-2 June 2011. DDD
GUILD GMCD 7377 [67:18]
Though not labelled as such, this is the fourth volume in an impressive series by Guild dedicated to the music of Swiss composer Volkmar Andreae. It follows three discs of chamber music - see enthusiastic reviews of his Piano Trios, String Quartets, and Violin Sonata.
Andreae is best known as a conductor, a devoted early advocate of Bruckner and the first to record the final version of his First Symphony, with the Austrian State SO - available on Forgotten Records CD FR 167, but this review of a recent 9-CD collection issued by Music & Arts gives some idea of what a fine conductor, of Bruckner especially, he was. Andreae also famously declined the New York Philharmonic's offer for him to replace Mahler as director on the latter's death in 1911, preferring to stay with his beloved Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich.
There is a little of Mahler in Andreae's Symphony in C, but not very much; in fact, his originality is such that no other composer is obviously called to mind - Respighi at a push? While he was at the height of his powers as a conductor, other great conductors - Nikisch, Reiner, Walter - were sufficiently impressed by his composing talent to include his works in their own programmes and tours.
Despite coming at the end of the Great War, and regardless of what the avant-garde of that period was up to, the four-movement Symphony, though not particularly profound, is a memorable, uplifting work of far and wide appeal: entirely tonal, melodic, beautifully structured, and orchestrated with superb clarity and colour. Why the Tonhalle Orchestra let this slip from their repertoire is puzzling - their website barely even mentions Andreae, in fact. In this, the fiftieth anniversary year of his death, what better way for the Orchestra to make amends than by reinstating what must be one of the finest Swiss symphonies?
The Notturno is somewhat darker in character than the Symphony, as is to be expected, but the conjoined Scherzo lifts the spirits with some Mediterranean blue sky. The Little Suite, an attractive Respighian depiction of the Venetian Carnival in four parts, completes the trilogy of works from the same fruitful period. A decade on, Music for Orchestra is a characterful work along the lines of a distilled companion-piece for the Symphony, yet also rather balletic or programmatic in sound.
All the works are given an aromatic, breezy, cohesive performance by the excellent Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under the experienced Marc Andreae, who is the composer's grandson. Sound quality is good, if not outstanding in its tutti definition. The detailed and informative booklet notes are English-language original, well written by Robert Matthew-Walker.
There is, thankfully, more to come in the future from Andreae on Guild: pianist Fali Pavri's website promises the premiere recording this summer of the Piano Concertos for release next year, again with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Marc Andreae.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
Memorable and uplifting … music of far and wide appeal: entirely tonal, melodic, beautifully structured, and orchestrated with superb clarity and colour.