Violin Concerto Op.24 (1951)
Viola Concerto Op.45 (1967)
Serenata Concertante Op.37 (1960)

Ulf Hoelscher, violin - Brett Dean, viola - Stephen Emmerson, piano
- Alan Smith, violin - David Lale, cello -

Queensland Symphony Orchestra - Werner Andreas Albert

CPO 999 422-2

Frankel s Violin Concerto Op.24 was written for the Festival of  Britain in 1951. It is dedicated to Max Rostal who gave the first performance and who has wholeheartedly championed the work for many years. The Violin Concerto still belongs to the early period of  Frankel s composing life and is still firmly anchored in the tonal tradition. The work has a somewhat unusual structure, i.e. in four movements of which the Andante mesto is both the longest and the weightiest. It is also "the part of the work closest to its subtitle" (Buxton Orr).

The first movement is a Moderato of a fairly traditional mould that begins with a long lyrical melody. The melody grows, the pace quickens and the mood gets more passionate. After a cadenza-like passage the earlier part of the movement is recalled and leads to a somewhat enigmatic conclusion. The mood drastically changes and the short second movement breaks in with much violence. Then the heart of the work: The slow movement is a deeply-felt elegy "in memory of the
six million" that sometimes reaches passionate heights punctuated by furious orchestral outbursts. The overall mood however is darkly lyrical.

The fourth movement may at first seem almost casual after what has happened in the earlier parts of the concerto. "Yet the acceptance of human frailty implicit in this music rather deepens the compassion of the earlier movements" (Buxton Orr). Frankel s Violin Concerto is a beautiful, impressive and deeply sincere work that definitely should be heard more often. I for one have long been waiting for a new recording of this piece. Here it is at long last in a magnificent performance by Ulf Hoelscher superbly partnered by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and Werner Andreas Albert.

The Viola Concerto Op. 45 was written in 1967 and thus belongs to Frankel s full maturity when he was more than ever master of his craft. Buxton Orr observes that for the long and complex first movement Frankel choses to write in a non-serial way. This movement also opens with a long, beautifully lyrical melody given by the viola. The tempo quickens in an Allegro moderato in which episodes sometimes contrast violently. An extensive cadenza leads to the return of the opening mood until an animated coda brings the movement to a brilliant conclusion. The following Lento is again primarily a
long elegy momentarily interrupted by violent orchestral outbursts that do not really succeed in dispelling the lyrical mood of this beautiful movement. The Viola Concerto ends with a brilliant rondo-like Finale. Frankel s Viola Concerto is a wonderful work and a substantial addition to the viola repertoire. This beautiful performance by Brett Dean will hopefully draw other violists attention to this hitherto much neglected work.

The Serenata Concertante Op. 37 (for piano trio and orchestra) was completed in 1960. The work originated in a commission from the Rostal-Cassado-Schroeter trio as a companion piece to Beethoven's Triple Concerto. As implied by the title this is a somewhat lighter piece than any of the concertos. It is rather a virtuoso piece cast in the form of a fantasia based on a single twelve-note row given out at the outset. It brilliantly displays Frankel s orchestral and instrumental mastery.
Again this is a superb release and possibly the finest so far in this Frankel cycle that definitely proves one of the greatest achievements of CPO who deserve all our gratitude for their dedication in carrying out this project.

I would like to end with a short personal note and pay a short sincere tribute to the late Buxton Orr who was the author of the excellent insert notes, a dedicated friend of Frankel and a very distinguished composer in his own right.

© Hubert CULOT

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