This is the fourth in a series of recordings to come to us from the Guild Records label devoted to the music of Swiss composer Volkmar Andreae, and is the first to feature the composer’s orchestral music. Unless you’ve heard some of the previous recordings in the series, the high quality of Andreae’s music will likely come as a complete and delightful surprise to you.
Volkmar Andreae (1879-1962) was a conductor of considerable distinction, having held the post of Music Director of the Tonhalle Orchestra of Switerland for over 40 years. As a conductor, Andrae became most closely associated with the music of Bruckner (a complete cycle of that composer’s symphonies under his direction is available from Music and Arts – M&A 1227).
The four orchestral works to be heard on this new Guild CD are all world-premiere recordings. Three of them, Kleine Suite, Op. 27, Notturno and Scherzo, Op. 30 and the Symphony in C, Op. 31, were written in the period between 1917 and 1919. The fourth, Music for Orchestra, Op. 35 comes from 1929. Completely tonal, melodic, colorful and masterfully orchestrated, this enjoyable music will appeal to a wide range of listeners.
The major work here is the Symphony in C major from 1919. It is composed in an appealing post-romantic vein. I was reminded of a number of disparate composers along the way, including Pfitzner, Franz Schmidt, Richard Strauss, Shostakovich and Vaughan Williams. However, Andreae’s music remains completely original and uniquely his own. At just under 30 minutes, the symphony is comparatively short and is in the traditional four sections, which are played without a break between. The uncomplicated opening theme reappears throughout the work, but in transformations that often make it difficult to recognize, appearing in widely different expressive settings. Sheer enjoyment factors of the listening experience aside, Andreae’s Symphony is remarkable for many reasons – it is inventive, musically interesting, colorful and quite beautiful.
The other shorter works on the disc are equally impressive. The Notturno and Scherzo bear the perfumed harmonies of Ravel and Debussy, with musical gestures that suggest Resphighi (whose Pines of Rome and Feste Romane it should be noted were actually composed after Andreae’s work). The music of the imaginatively orchestrated Kleine Suite ranges from passages of elfin charm to full orchestra body-slams in the best manner of Mahler and Shostakovich.
Performances by the Bournemouth Symphony under the direction of the composer’s grandson, Marc Andreae, are excellent. Do yourself a favor and make the acquaintance of the little known, but incredibly enjoyable music of Volkmar Andreae. If you buy the disc from HBDirect.com and you don’t like it, we’ll take it back.
Volkmar Andreae was in his day one of the leading conductors in Central Europe. As conductor of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra he dominated Swiss music life for almost half a century, while he was one of the first men anywhere to champion the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. But his real gift lay in composition. His early style was influenced by Richard Strauss, but his music soon developed its own brand of late Romanticism. By turns exuberant and melancholic and always sumptuously orchestrated, Andreae’s music is a major rediscovery. This CD unites the major orchestral works of his maturity, including his only Symphony. In later years he focussed more on conducting and ever less on composing. But this CD leaves you wishing it had been the other way round.
Andreae was born in Bern. He received piano instruction as a child and his first lessons in composition with Karl Munzinger. From 1897 to 1900, he studied at the Cologne Conservatory and was a student of… read more
Conductor: Marc Andreae
Born into a musical family, Marc Andreae studied in his native town of Zurich, as well as with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and Franco Ferrara in Rome. From 1969 to 1991 Andreae was musical director of the… read more
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Orchestra: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
The BSO is one of the UK’s leading orchestras, proudly serving communities throughout the South and South West as well as performing nationally and internationally. It is one of the most dynamic and innovative symphony orchestras in the world, a tradition that dates from its foundation in 1893. … read more
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Volkmar Andreae: Symphony in C major Op. 31 - I. Allegro Moderato