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Orchestral Works 1
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Audio CD, 4 September 2020
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- Package Dimensions : 14.4 x 12.8 x 1 cm; 120 Grams
- Manufacturer : Capriccio
- Original Release Date : 2020
- Label : Capriccio
- ASIN : B089CKB5YM
- Number of discs : 1
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It simply cannot be gauged what music has lost with him (Gustav Mahler) Hans Rott was a composer from Gustav Mahlers time who had been unknown or known only by name even to most pundits. Many people have expressed the opinion, perhaps justifiably, that only his tragic fate prevented him from going down in the annals of music as Mahlers equal and establishing a permanent position in the repertoire. A member of Bruckners circle within the music scene in Vienna, he developed a pronounced antipathy towards Johannes Brahms. In view of many of his works, it is difficult to comprehend that during Rotts lifetime presumably not one of them was performed in public, but that only presentations took place under the aegis of internal conservatory events. With these recordings Capriccio attend to fill the gap with his (some of them reconstructed) orchestral works and document these fascinating worlds of music for the eternity.
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I am minded to repeat a favourite anecdote: Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold, both exiled Viennese born composers of Jewish background adding glorious uber-Romantic music to Hollywood Epics in the 30s, 40s and 50s were having coffee in the Warner Bros refectory, when Steiner asked “ Have you noticed, Erich, that since we came to Hollywood my music is getting better and better, and yours worse and worse?”, to which Korngold replied “ That is because I am stealing from you, and you are stealing from me!”
I admit that the parallel with this collection is not entirely accurate, but there is always a lot of additional pleasure to be derived from recordings of Rott’s music in spotting who stole what from whom! (I use the word “stole” advisedly-“borrowed” or “employed” might be more apt.)
This is a gloriously enjoyable collection highlighting again just how much of what we once thought of as the unique sound world of Mahler emanated from Rott, and in these selections just how heavily Rott was influenced by Bruckner, Schumann-and Wagner (a LOT of Wagner)!
Some of the music has appeared previously, usually as a filler to the Symphony, but the reconstruction of Hamlet appears for the first time. It is heavily reliant on the structure and sonority of Bruckner, and is a fine stirring piece.
The Suite in B Flat Minor is new also and here we find a familiar theme utilised by Mahler in the First Symphony-the opening motto in fact of the Suite is “copied” literally note by note. The Julius Caesar Prelude and Pastorale have been recorded by Weigle and Dennis Russel Davies, but the performances by the world class Gurzenich Orchestra and outstanding recording by Capriccio-rich, warm and detailed-propel these works to a higher category.
The highlight for me is the Pastorale, at 14 minutes the most substantial work which echoes the Forest Murmurs from Siegfried, the Third Symphony of Bruckner (well, almost ANY Bruckner Symphony) and in which the opening movement of Mahler One is brought to mind time and again.
I have nothing but admiration for the conducting of Christopher Ward, a young English musician whose pedigree includes sometime musical assistant to Rattle and the BPO and who has recently been appointed Music Director in Aachen, a post which has been a springboard to great things in the past ( there was one famous instance-Albert von Caravan or some such?), and in popping down the road to Koeln he demonstrates an ability to elicit sumptuous playing from the Gurzenich musicians, and complete sympathy with and understanding of Rott’s musical sound world.
In another idiom, Picasso reputedly stated that good artists copy, great artists steal! Applying that to music would suggest that both Rott and Mahler were great artists indeed-and I would not quibble with that view.
As ever when reviewing compositions by Rott I want to stress that music is intensely enjoyable in its own right, not just as a “spot the hidden melody” game, and if you are already a convert this disc is de rigueur, even if you have previous recordings of some of the works.
If you are entirely new to Rott’s music and if you love the late Romantic idiom as I do, you will be delighted with the music (yes, there are clunky passages-but cf. Bruckner and Mahler!) and the performances and recording are exemplary.
This is described as Volume One-I hope that success enables further volumes which will inevitably include the Symphony where the best recordings are currently led by Jarvi/Frankfurt and Trinks/Mozarteum-though Albrecht/Munich offers the best value and in truth ALL the available recordings are very fine and offer different insights.
This collection-unmissable and 5 Glorious Stars. Stewart Crowe.