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Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962)
Orchestral Music - Volume 3
Symphony in F major (1898-1900) [37:12]
Li-Tai-Pe, Eight Chinese Songs for Tenor and Orchestra Op.37 (1931) [22:03]
Concertino for Oboe and Orchestra, Op.42 (1941) [18:33]
Benjamin Hulett (tenor); John Anderson (oboe)
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Marc Andreae
rec. The Lighthouse, Poole, Dorset, 13-14 June 2013. DDD
world premiere recordings
GUILD GMCD 7400 [78:35]

Guild’s single-handed Andreae project continues to shed enlightenment on the music of a man known, if at all, as a conductor of Swiss nationality. There are plenty of other examples of musicians prominently recognised as conductors but who also composed. The roster includes Klemperer, Walter, Goossens, Furtwängler and Weingartner. Who knows; in years to come some of them may attain the status of being known primarily as composers who also happened to conduct.
 
The present Symphony is his first and one that despite its evident merits the composer remained dissatisfied with. He omitted to attach an opus number to it. It does not have the mien of a youthful indiscretion. Its demeanour is that of a no holds barred epic with a 12 minute Adagio mined from an imaginative seam of the highest quality. There is a flighty Intermezzo that in part reminded me of Brahms’ Third Symphony but which has all the effervescence of Mendelssohn’s Italian. The finale continues the serenely confident mood of that remarkable Adagio but with a shuddering energy reminiscent of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. Speaking of confidence: Andreae takes the risk of ending on a sustained smiling downbeat.
 
The Li-Tai-Pe songs are for tenor and orchestra and date from three decades after the symphony. These Chinese poems were published in translation by Hans Bethge in 1907. The same collection also found favour to even greater fame with Gustav Mahler whose Das Lied von der Erde set poems from the same source. These are also the same poems that in English translations attracted settings by Bliss, Lambert, Arthur Oldham and Reginald Redman, although they referred to the poet as Li-Tai-Po. As with the 1900 symphony the music is tonal but now the Brahmsian weeds have been cast off in favour of greater transparency. Generally the textures are more open and even impressionistic - all birdsong, butterfly wings, drifting clouds and swooning moons. Not only has Andreae learnt from Mahler but also from Zemlinsky in his Lyric Symphony. After the sinister intimations of The Dance on the Cloud comes the utterly lovely Abschied. Then there’s the subtle and expressionistic melancholy of The Great White Egret,the final words of which are “I stand lonely by the edge of the pond / Peering silently across the land.” Shades of Warlock’s Curlew. The words are most sensitively sung by Benjamin Hulett.
 
The poems are:-
 
I The Song of Sorrow [3:04]
II. Wanderer Awakens in the Hostel [3:55]
III. The Fisherman in Spring [4:08]
IV. On the Banks of the Yo-Yeh [2:07]
V. Si-schy [2:12]
VI. The Dance on the Cloud [1:08]
VII. Farewell [3:28]
VIII. The Great White Egret [2:01]
 
The Oboe Concertino dates from the darkest depths of the Second World War. This is a work of reflective contentment with long sun-warmed lyrical lines and dancing delight. It is strikingly attractive with no obstacles to appreciation. Parts of it reminded me of Othmar Schoeck’s magical Sommernacht.
 
The supporting notes are by Robert Matthew-Walker and these are also given in German translation.
 
Guild’s Volkmar Andreae Edition has already given us the concertos, the 1919 symphony, the piano trios, the string and flute quartets and some of the songs. I do hope that there will be more Andreae to come from this source. There’s an opera Ratcliff and various works for voices and orchestra.  

Rob Barnett 


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