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aBritish Symphonies
4CDs £16 post-free


W.S. Bennett, Rootham, Moeran,
Bax, Rubbra, Rawsthorne, Berkeley
Alwyn, Grace Williams, Arnold, Wordsworth. Searle, Joubert

Van Dieren Chinese Symphony
Searle Symphonies 3, 5
Shaw Piano Concertos 1 and 2

£11.75 post-free

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Carl REINECKE (1824-1910)
Dornröschen Op. 139 [52:13]
Sieben Kinderlieder (from Opp. 37, 63, 138, 196, 285) [11:09]
Dornröschen: Catalina Bertucci (soprano); Böse Fei, Spinnerin, Die Sage von Dornröschen - Gerhild Romberger (alto); Königssohn – Markus Köhler (baritone); Duet der Fliegen – Maria Pönicke (soprano) and Janina Hollich (mezzo); Erzähler – Christian Klenihart (narrator)
Songs: Mieke Lelushko (soprano); Janina Hollisch (mezzo)
Feen-Ensemble/Anne Kohler; Peter Kreutz (piano)
rec. Konserhaus der Hochschule für Musik Detmold, 28 February-2 March 2011
German text and English translation included
CPO 999 870-2 [63:22]


Carl Reinecke lived a long life during which he was taught by Mendelssohn and Schumann and in turn taught, amongst many others, Grieg, Bruch, Sinding, Svendsen and Stanford. He was a fine pianist and inspired a poem by H.C. Andersen. As a composer today he is mainly known for a handful of works, including the Undine Sonata for flute and piano whose popularity amongst flautists is helped by the shortage of romantic works of comparable scale and merit.
The present enterprising issue draws attention to another aspect of his output - secular cantatas for (largely) female voices and piano. This was a popular genre in Germany, and indeed in Britain, providing suitable material for private concerts at which young amateur singers could perform for friends and relations. It would be unrealistic to expect Wagnerian drama in these cantatas; rather, they usually consist of a series of atmospheric but not too technically taxing songs and ensembles all related to a single theme. In this case the theme is the Sleeping Beauty story which is told by a narrator between the sung items. The female singers act as a narrative chorus and as a group of fairies whilst the soloists represent Sleeping Beauty, the Wicked Fairy and a pair of flies(!). The last of these is particularly charming and is an unexpected addition to the familiar story which has the merit of allowing some quicker and lighter music than the rest. Apart from the narrator the only male soloist is the Prince who provides a welcome change of compass. The music is unfailing delightful in the style of the composer’s early teachers, Mendelssohn and Schumann, and if it breaks no new musical ground it is always charming, well constructed, and varied.
The Children’s Songs are even simpler in manner, but have an easy charm that just avoids being facile or sentimental. They are sensibly varied here between soprano and mezzo-soprano soloists which avoids any risk of monotony. All in all this is a disc which adds usefully and very enjoyably to the composer’s representation and which points to a repertoire which girls’ choirs might well explore in live concerts. Too much sophistication in the performance of these works would be out of place and the singers here all have fresh voices and a fresh approach which closely matches the ideal for this kind of music. The pianist Peter Kreutz appears to have been the guiding spirit behind the revival of this music and its presentation here, and I salute his enterprise and achievement in both respects.
John Sheppard