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   Symphonies: September 2008 Archives

Neilsen's Pupil

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Danacord 417

Poul Schierbeck
(1888-1949)

Symphony #1, Op. 15 (1921) 46:12
Radio-Rhapsody, Op. 49 (1938) 16:45

Artur Rubinstein Philharmonic Orchestra/Ilya Stupel
Danacord DACOCD417 62:57

If you think this symphony sounds as if it were written by Carl Nielsen, you would not be far off. Schierbeck arrived at his style honestly; Nielsen was one of his composition teachers, and also conducted the premier performance of this fine symphony in 1922.

The little jewel of a third movement, Allegro molto comodo e quasi indolente (Dolce far niente), lasts slightly under four minutes, employs almost all of the colors of the full orchestra, and presents a very cheerful interlude in this spacious symphony. On the whole, it is a work of many moods and rich orchestration, and it deserves a wide audience. Schierbeck wrote that this symphony is not program music, but it was inspired by fireworks – the sparks and the glow in the sky.

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In the Austro-German Tradition

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Chandos CHAN9357

Franz Schmidt
(1874-1939)

Symphony #1 in E Major (1896-9)

Richard Strauss
(1864-1949)

Four Symphonic Interludes from Intermezzo (1924)

Detroit Symphony Orchestra/Neeme Järvi
Chandos CHAN9357 68:20

The Austrian, Franz Schmidt, wrote four symphonies, all of which are available on Chandos and conducted by Neeme Järvi. The shades of Schumann, Brahms and Richard Strauss are in varying degrees of evidence in his first, a work running about 45 minutes. If any of these three composers appeals, then Schmidt is someone to consider. The interludes from the Strauss opera have much the same feel as the suite from Der Rosenkavalier.

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[ Sheet music by Schmidt: Sheet Music Plus - Musicnotes.com ]

Orchestral Works by Cliffe

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Sterling 1055

Frederic Cliffe
(1857-1931)

Symphony #1 in C Minor, Op. 1 (1889)
Orchestral Picture "Cloud and Sunshine" (1890)

Malmö Opera Orchestra/Christopher Fifield
Sterling CDS-1055-2 57:51

Asked to guess the identity of the composer of these works, you might consider a minor nineteenth-century German composer who knew his Brahms and Wagner very well: to take just one example, a lot of Stanford's music sounds like Brahms, but is none the worse for that.

Although born in the same year as Elgar, the English composer Cliffe followed a different path and although there are hints of later music, in the music presented here he never strays far from the norm of the period. The symphony, running about 43 minutes, is a welcome addition to the recorded repertoire. At its centre is a stately and quite emotional slow movement. Cloud and Sunshine is much what you'd expect. The somewhat reverberant acoustic – a church in Malmö – suits the music and Fifield, who has made other first recordings for Sterling, makes the best case for it.

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Trumpet