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Rudolf Moser (1892-1960)
Intrade for string orchestra, Op.38 No.2
Concerto for oboe and string orchestra, Op.86
Spielmusik for string orchestra, Op.57 No.4
Kleine Suite for string orchestra, Op.38 No.1
Concerto grosso for string orchestra, Op.32
Marc Lachat (oboe)
Chamber Orchestra I Tempi/Gevorg Gharabekyan
rec. 2020/21, Landgasthof Riehen, Switzerland
GENUIN GEN22773 [68]

Rudolf Moser was a composition teacher in Basel, whose life ended prematurely in an accident in the Alps. He is remembered, if at all, as a Reger student and as the teacher of Paul Sacher, two rather reductive posthumous accolades that don’t, really, explain that much. Perhaps it’s more apt to see him as a gifted string player, which led to Sacher, who had studied privately with Moser, to encourage him to write for his Basel Chamber Orchestra.

We can hear the results of these commissions in this disc. The Intrade dates from 1927, written in three-part overture form, is strongly neo-baroque, its warm generosity of phrasing, supple and calm, added to by virtue of the use of a piano continuo. More substantial is the Oboe Concerto of 1950, a very ‘English’ work as the notes justly note, something that could almost have been written by Vaughan Williams. Its modality is surely more than merely coincidental, its fluidity and baroque cadential elements fusing naturally with fresh open hearted and spirited elements, topped by the finale’s fugue. It makes a fine impression and soloist Marc Lachat proves an ambassador of finesse. The Oboe Concerto was originally written for oboe and string quartet but it’s also cast for orchestral accompaniment, as here.

The programme drifts back to 1936 via the Spielmusik for string orchestra. It’s cast in a five-movement baroque suite form of which the finest section is possibly the finale, a Gigue with a spirited rhythmic kick to it. Moser seems to have been immersed in baroque form, and to have felt most comfortable, compositionally, within its constraints. Questions of avant-garde and behind-the-times are largely immaterial here: this is a composer perfectly content in his milieu. The Kleine Suite shares its opus number with the Intrade and also dates from 1927. It’s a genial and attractive work devoid of any examples of tangy harmonies that might elevate it beyond it the ordinary, I’m afraid, and also devoid of personality too. You only have to reflect on Warlock and the Capriol Suite to hear what’s missing.

The final piece is the Concerto Grosso of 1927 which is written along the lines of Corelli – none the worse for all that, of course. Much in the opening is grave and some of the most expressive of Moser’s writing. The Bourée I and II are slightly angular and the solo strings step out for the moments in the sun as there are concertante moments too in the Menuet.

Moser’s talent was in a sense self-limiting, and on this showing he was perfectly content to compose within rigorously accepted limits. For those sympathetic, the performances are resilient and able and promote his music well; they’ve also been well recorded.

Jonathan Woolf

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