Naxos brings us this beautifully performed and recorded CD of two works that are highly deserving of better representation in the catalog: Eugen d'Albert's Symphony in F major, Op. 4 and the Symphonic Prologue to the Opera 'Tiefland', Op. 34. Jun Märkl leads the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra in exceptionally fine performances.
Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932) was born in Scotland to parents of French and Italian origin. His early studies were in England, but he later declared Germany to be his homeland. He was a prolific composer best know for his operas, of which he wrote twenty-one. It's surprising that he got anything done at all given that he had been married six times and was actively working on his sixth divorce at the time of his death in 1932. d'Albert was best known as a pianist. He studied with Liszt and performed both Brahms piano concertos in Berlin in 1896 in concerts conducted by the composer. Before turning his attention more completely to composition, he had travelled and concertized throughout Europe and the U.S.
His most successful opera, and the only one that retains a toe-hold in the repertoire, is Tiefland, the prologue to which begins this CD. The opera opens in a high mountains meadow, among jagged snowy peaks and early morning stars, clouded in a mist that is visible in the day's first light. d'Albert's music is highly evocative of this setting; you can listen to roughly half of the prologue on the sample that accompanies this review. The two works on this disc are separated by about forty years, but both sound as though they could have come from the late nineteenth century.
If you wish to investigate d'Albert's music further, aside from his operas, his finest compositions are his cello concerto, the two piano concertos, and two string quartets, as well as the Symphony in F major on this Naxos CD.
Prolific as a composer and renowned as a pianist, Eugen d’Albert enjoyed a central position in European musical life and was nicknamed ‘Albertus Magnus’ by Liszt. Of his many operas, Tiefland is the best known, its Symphonic Prologue setting a pastoral scene for the torrid drama to follow. The ambitious Symphony in F major is d’Albert’s single work in this form, showing him as a gifted composer in the tradition of Brahms. His two piano concertos can be found on Naxos 8.553728.
For the complete liner notes, please follow the link in the left sidebar titled "View Booklet Notes".
Composer: Eugen D’Albert
The German composer Eugen d’Albert (1864-1932) was born in Glasgow and had his early musical training in London, where his father had formerly been ballet-master at the King’s Theatre and at Covent Garden. He enjoyed a career as a virtuoso pianist, later turning his attention to opera, a form in which he won immediate, if ephemeral success.
Jun Märkl conducts the world’s leading orchestras, such as the Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic and Tonhalle Orchester Zürich. He has long been a highly respected interpreter of the core Germanic repertoire from both the symphonic and operatic traditions, and more recently for his refined and idiomatic Debussy, Ravel and Messiaen.
The MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra is Germany’s oldest radio orchestra. Today it is one of the liveliest and most innovative ensembles of its kind in Europe. In addition to featuring regularly on radio and television, the orchestra is committed to the challenge of producing first-class recordings, as well as to performing numerous concerts and to sharing its expertise and enthusiasm via children and youth projects.
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Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932): Symphonic Prologue to the Opera 'Tiefland', Op. 34