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Album at a Glance

OrchestralTonal and Consonant
Guild Music Record Label - Guild Music: Mission: “a world-wide reputation for quality, in seeking young gifted musicians, in premiere recordings of unjustly neglected music, in superb modern sound.”
Release date: 2012-06-12

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Orchestral Music of Volkmar Andreae from Guild Records

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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.