Fritz BRUN (1878-1959)
Symphony No. 2 in B major (1911) [37:33] Symphonischer Prolog für grosses Orchester (1944) [20:38] Moscow Symphony Orchestra/Adriano
rec. 10-14 March 2014, Mosfilm Studios, Moscow. DDD GUILD GMCD7416 [58:04]
This is the seventh salvo in a welcome musical barrage first begun in the mid-2000s. Credit to Guild for sticking staunchly to the cause of
Fritz Brun and to Adriano's advocacy of this barely known Swiss composer. Guild have also issued archive recordings of Brun conducting his Symphony No. 8 and Variations on an Original Theme (review).
You might expect from Brun's dates that the music would tend towards the late-romantic and you would be right. On the evidence he favoured the long paragraph loquaciously presented; concision is not Brun's priority. The discursive spirit of the Second Symphony brings it shoulder to shoulder with that of Brahms' Second Symphony, the pastoral suites of the Dane, Ludolf Nielsen, Elgar's Falstaff, Suk's Summer's Tale and Ripening and the glorious Sommernacht by the dedicatee of the Brun Symphony, Othmar Schoeck. The Brun work is an essay in pleasant, leisurely, sun-drenched expatiation varied by outcrops of briefly explosive drama. The third movement is distinguished by a warm and luxuriously treasurable melody - the equivalent of an orchestrated noonday. The grand carnival finale is a jolly country-dance affair. At 5:29 there's some lovely rounded writing for the French horn. The movement as a whole reminded me of Siegfried Wagner and of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances.
Brun's Symphonischer Prolog für grosses Orchester is a big meaty affair - serious and with none of the levity of the finale of the Symphony which is, after all, the work of a young man of 33. The Prologue was written when Brun was 66. Its parabola rises from ecclesiastical chant and birdsong to craggy fanfares exchanged across the heights (5:30) to the supercharged drama and pumped up defiance (9:47) of Brahms' Tragic Overture and Fourth Symphony.
The booklet runs to 32 pages, albeit the lengthily detailed essay by Adriano - edited by MWI reviewer Ian Lace - is printed in English and German. It also includes two informal and therefore revealing photographs of the composer; one with Brun's friend, Othmar Schoeck.
The recording is a good one with the music flourishing under the benefit of four days' worth of studio sessions. That seems generous by most standards today but the orchestra's acquired familiarity with the music and with Adriano tells strongly in terms of the listening experience.
This disc takes us the penultimate step towards the culmination of Dr Hans Brun's sponsorship of the musical legacy of Fritz Brun. Both Bruns owe much to Adriano who has the market both cornered and inspirationally tended.