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Richard FLURY (1896-1967)
Suite for String Orchestra (1959) [19:06]
String Quartet No. 6 in D minor (1958) [24:06]
String Quartet No. 7 in D minor (1964) [20:37]
Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana / Richard Flury
Das neue Weiner Streichquartett
Jost Meier, Walter Kägi, Jean-Pierre Moeckli, Urs Joseph Flury
rec. 1963-1970
VDE-GALLO CD-1423 [64:08]

A conservative and a traditionalist, the music of the Swiss composer Richard Flury is firmly rooted in the neo-romantic tradition. He was also quite prolific with three operas, several concertos, seven string quartets, some violin sonatas, piano works, four masses and other sacred music to his name. I’ve listened to a lot of his music recently and have concluded that his appeal lies in his melodic gifts, his colourful orchestration, imaginative harmonies and well-crafted scoring. An unproductive venture down the path of modernism and free tonality in the 1930s led him to abandon that course and stick to what he knew and did best.

The Suite for String Orchestra from 1959 was the composer’s last large-scale orchestral work, and it bears a dedication to Flury’s friend, the conductor, composer and music critic Gustav Renker on his 70th birthday. Cast in four movements, it pays homage to the season of spring in its yearning, energy and anticipation of new life. The opening movement’s life-affirming character sets the tone of what’s to follow. The second movement Andantino is particularly attractive, music enveloped in a dreamy haze. The composer titles the third movement Valse, and it’s light-hearted with not a care in the world. The motoric accents and soaring themes of the finale bring closure to the work in exultant fashion. The composer himself directs the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana in this 1963 airing for Radio Lugano.

Flury composed seven string quartets between 1926 and 1964. No. 6, in four movements, was completed in 1958 to celebrate his sister’s 60th birthday. The work, in D minor, reveals a competent and technically fluid hand, and comes across as a unified whole, such are the connections between the movements. It also demonstrates the contrapuntal strengths of the composer. The performance is a Radio Bern recording dated 4.11.64 by the New Vienna String Quartet, who play with astonishing warmth, vitality and infectious enthusiasm.

D minor was also the key chosen for the Quartet No. 7, penned in 1964. Again in four movements, after an animated opener, there’s a rapturous Andantino in the form of a ‘Sicilienne’. Flury could certainly turn his hand to enchanting melody. A sprightly Vivace precedes a finale which is a masterful fugue. Urs Joseph Flury, the composer’s son, heads a group of musicians in a riveting performance from December 1970.

I’ve no reservations regarding the quality of the recordings, they’re both warm and engaging. The booklet notes, in English and German, are excellent.

Stephen Greenbank

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