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CD Review

Lou Koster

  • Ouverture légère
  • Lore- Lore, Op. 13 (Waltz suite)
  • Heideland (Waltz suite)
  • Suite dramatique
  • Unter blühenden Linden (Waltz suite)
  • Moseltraüme (Waltz suite)
  • Toute vie (Waltzes)
Orchestra "Estro Armonico" Luxembourg/Jonathan Kaell
Naxos 8.573330 61:34
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Kudos to Naxos for not making a big deal – indeed, any mention at all – of composer Lou Koster being a woman anywhere on the jewel case. Even in today's supposedly modern world, we haven't quite gotten over the idea of women as composers or conductors. Koster was 11 when the 20th Century began, she was still living as late as 1973. Those looking for highly innovative and distinctive music will have to look elsewhere, for despite all the things she lived through, her early music is tuneful and pleasant while remaining highly conservative.

This is lovely, playful Viennese-ish kitsch. Koster was popular on radio during World War II, and it's not hard to hear why. The music definitely harks back to an older time. Even in the early 1920s, this would have been considered rather old-fashioned. The so-called Suite dramatique is simply another eight minutes of charming dances. The "unexpected turns" mentioned on the jewel case are doubtless the precious few seconds of tension that quickly dissipate under more dulcet tones. And as for the "emotional nuances" from the same sentence on the box, I can only imagine Naxos wants us to be swept away by the faux-Straussian melodies and admittedly charming woodwind lines. None of this music is bad, but none of it lingers in the mind. I understand why there are those itching to have it rediscovered, but it's not a project that I suspect will have a very wide audience.

Perhaps a stronger orchestra would make a better impression. Naxos always records well, but I find everything a little soft-edged, from the singing of the strings to the brass and percussion. This is not music that needs help sounding "soft", and Jonathan Kaell doesn't seem to be making things better in that regard. Ultimately, while we can applaud patriotism and continue to champion women in music, this is not a disc that strikes me as essential.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman