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Richard FLURY (1896–1967)
5 Orchesterstücke aus dem Festspiel Der Scholle treu (1935, orch. Edouard Favre, 1935, and Paul Mann, 2021) [17:31]
Four Caprices for Violin and Orchestra (1966–67) [16:13]
Andante sostenuto (1967) orch. Paul Mann (2021) [5:24]
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra No. 3 (1943–44) [26:13]
Alexandre Dubach (violin)
Liepāja Symphony Orchestra/Paul Mann
rec. March 2021, Great Amber Concert Hall, Liepāja, Latvia

Though the Swiss neo-romantic Richard Flury has not been entirely overlooked by record labels, the works on Toccata’s second volume devoted to his orchestral compositions contain a raft of première recordings. In fact, only the Third Violin Concerto has been recorded before.

Flury’s Five Orchestral Pieces from Der Scholle treu date from 1935. This was the fourth of his five festival pageants and at 17 or so minutes, the longest. Because of heavy commitments, he delegated orchestration duties to his friend Edouard Favre, who then presented three sections of the work for the concert hall. To make this torso more attractive for recording and performance, Paul Mann has orchestrated the opening and closing sections to present (and conduct) a five-movement work. It’s a light, breezy occasional piece but Mann’s sections go heavy with brass and percussion, perhaps more than the composer would have, and almost certainly more than Favre would have done. Nevertheless, the results justify the means, whilst the Intermezzo, the heart of the pageant, and Favre’s work, is both expressive and romantic.

The Four Caprices for Violin and Orchestra, a concertante serenade, in effect, followed three decades later and was completed shortly before Flury’s death. The opening Caprice has genial lightness, whilst the second is an orchestration of Flury’s Eleventh Violin Sonata and is a verdant Polka. The third has true poetic charm and the fourth and last is fast and dextrous. Mann was responsible for the orchestration of Andante sostenuto from the piano original. Once again, he subtly changes the music’s effect but, as Flury’s son had had a go orchestrating it but gave up dissatisfied, then Mann’s efforts are to be applauded for their vigorous energy.

The final work here is the Third Violin Concerto, composed during the war. Soloist Alexandre Dubach identifies the idiom as somewhere between Bruch and Dvořák. I’d add Goldmark to that little list. Certainly, as so often with Flury, the music is full of unselfconscious, terpsichorean lightness and as Dubach is only the second player to perform the work he has the opportunity to stamp his authority on it. The first performer, incidentally, and the man for whom the work was written, was the Hanseatic Georg Kulenkampff, whose performance of the premiere has survived and can be found on Podium POL 1014-2. The central movement is again laced with a lovely lyric intensity whilst the finale is suffused with the world of dance. Turning briefly to that boxy première recording one finds Kulenkampff a more vibrant performer, and more ardent in the slow movement at a slower tempo. But despite Kulenkampff’s great playing, I can’t, in all conscience, recommend the Podium disc except as an ancillary recording of an attractive work.

The performers here are subtle and thoroughly committed, disciplined but poetic when need be, not least Dubach who is a sophisticated exponent of the composer’s music. The recording team has worked at the Great Amber Concert Hall, Liepāja on a number of occasions by now and measure the balances and acoustic extremely well. The notes are by a number of pens; Urs Joseph Flury, the composer’s son and the man who has dedicated so much time, energy and resilience to the propagation of his father’s work, as well as mini essays by Dubach and Mann.

Flury’s quiet and deliberately old-fashioned musical pathway is inevitably generous and good hearted.

Jonathan Woolf

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