Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

ALBERT RUBENSON (1826-1901) orchestral works -  Drapa (1866) [4.13] Symphony (1847 rev 1851) [24.07] Symphonic Intermezzo (1860) [19.13] Trois Pièces Symphoniques (1871) [13.50] all world premiere recordings  Umea SO/Roy Goodman.   rec 10-13 June 1998, Umea, Sweden STERLING CDS-1029-2 [61.23]
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Sterling bring us another completely unknown Swedish romantic; this time with Leipzig connections. His music is in delightful thrall to Schumann's orchestral music although the latest work here also bears the marks of Dvorák.

Without being utterly compelling Rubenson is an attractive voice for anyone who loves the music of Berwald and Schumann.

Drapa is typically nationalistic with echoes of Smetana's heroism. The predominant major voice and influence is Robert Schumann. The work is also has episodes that evoke a village dance. The four movement symphony reflects some of the great names of the nineteenth century. Beethoven's Pastoral in the central movements and both Schumann (especially the fourth symphony in the final allegro con fuoco) and Schubert (The Unfinished) stalk the outer movements. The influences are obvious but Rubenson has a fresh voice that makes his music transcend crass influence spotting.

Symphonic Intermezzo (three movements) is again from the Schumann stable with some wonderfully balanced juxtapositions of loud and soft. The second movement is Weber-like in its woodland mystery with its classical high-noon warmth rippled and ruffled by some elegant dashing breezes. The final allegro non troppo reminded me of Schumann's Overture, Scherzo and Finale although Joachim Raff can also be discerned among the brisk romance.

The Three Symphonic Pieces, as befits their date, seems the most modern work on the disc. Dvorák (of Symphonies 4-6), the unassuming countryman, is a familiar voice in a work that seems to celebrate village dances and rustic romance: Perhaps a flavour of Smetana's Bartered Bride also hangs over the work. The last movement has a gentle valour returning to Rubenson's 'magnetic North' reasserting the Schumann nexus.

Attractive and unassuming music with a smile and wink. Recommended.


Rob Barnett

see also earlier review by Ian Lace


Rob Barnett

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