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Richard FLURY (1896-1967)
Piano Quintet (1948) [30.45]
String Quartet No. 5 (1955) [28.30]
13 Lieder for Soprano and Piano (1917-1965) [17.55]
Rosmarie Hofmann (soprano)
Margaret Singer (piano)
Ulrich Lehmann (violin)
Urs Joseph Flury (violin)
Erich Meyer (viola)
Stefan Thut (cello)
rec. 1996. No venue details given
GALLO CD-866 [78.25]

In a previous review of this disc, my colleague Rob Barnett aptly described Richard Flury as “a voice out of time”. He was both a conservative and a traditionalist, and his music remains firmly rooted in late Romanticism. It’s true that his curiosity impelled him to dabble briefly in modernism and free tonality in the 1930s when the influence of Berg and Hindemith can be detected, but the experiment was short-lived. At the end of the day he stuck to what he knew best. He was a fine tunesmith and, for many, his appeal lies in his melodic gifts, imaginative harmonies and well-crafted scoring. He was a prolific composer with three operas, several concertos, seven string quartets, some violin sonatas, piano works, four masses and other sacred music to his name.

The Piano Quintet is lauded as one of Flury’s finest chamber works. It was written in 1948 for artist and friend Cuno Amiet, who had painted four portraits of the composer. Its premiere took place on September 25th of that year, at the opening of an exhibition at the Solothurn Art Museum, on the occasion of the painter’s eightieth birthday. It’s cast in four movements, and shot through with lush romanticism. It has an exquisite slow movement, lyrically effusive, ardent and yearning, with more than a hint of Dohnányi. The Scherzo is also attractive for its catchy, dance-like rhythms.

Flury composed seven string quartets between 1926 and 1964. No. 5 in C major, in four movements, dates from 1955, and was premiered in Milan later that year. It begins with an Allegro molto of sunny disposition. The slow movement has a wistful air about it, and seems to reminisce on times past. The third movement is a sort of parody on a Viennese waltz. I found the upbeat finale the least distinguished of the movements.

Between 1917 and 1965 Flury composed 181 songs, of which 80 have appeared in print. For 28 of the songs he orchestrated accompaniments. The soprano Rosemarie Hofman sings 13 of the best known, accompanied by Margaret Singer on piano. All are very short, ranging from 46 seconds to just over 2 minutes. Each is a lyrical gem, and it would be difficult to single one out for special comment. I wish song texts and translations would have been included, it would have greatly enhanced the pleasure.

Overall, the music is richly rewarding, offering much to savour. All are winning performances, and I urge you to explore this seductive disc.

Stephen Greenbank

Previous review: Rob Barnett

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