Deutsche Fassung Version Française English Version Versione Italiana

New releases


Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Symphony No.4 in F major Op.120
(Firts version 1841)
Symphony in G minor
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Symphony No.4 Op.90 "Italian"
(Version 1833/34)

Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Marc Andreae


Conductor Marc Andreae (b. 1939) and his Bamberg Symphony have decided to restore (and edit) the original versions of two familiar Romantic scores – and one unfamiliar – to the active repertory. Schumann created two versions of his 1832 two-movement g minor Symphony, revising his first thoughts with a “more friendly” rhythm – dotted quarter/ sixteenth/ quarter – for the first movement. Andreae opts for the latter version, which he considers an improvement. The melodic tissue bears a family resemblance to the first statement in the Op. 2 Papillons. Energetic, with a study upbeat figure, the first movement recalls moments from Mozart, with quick, sturdy chords in C Major that presage Bruckner.  The influence of Mendelssohn’s First Walpurgis Night may not be amiss. Conductor Andreae has altered the last 35 bars of the second movement Andantino to include three unison trombones, the flute and oboe original. In 1972 Andreae recorded his version with the Munich Philharmonic. The opening of the second movement – here, in its world-premier recording – recalls at once aspects of Davidsbuendler and the Fourth Symphony. An Intermezzo of 104 bars – serving as a third movement – prefaces the entry of the trombones, then moving to a pianissimo that Andreae builds up to a grand finale heavy in the tympani, in b minor, that will fade away to the aether. The writing, while lyrical, has the turgid quality of a composer’s still searching for an orchestral medium to “legitimate” himself, his having opted for g minor to embrace at least one major masterpiece as his predecessor.
The Schumann d minor Symphony of 1841 – originally his “second” symphony – was to be revised ten years later, having received a lukewarm reception at its premier. According to Brahms, who preferred the original version, the later edition slowed the tempo and stripped it of its initial charm. “Its graceful freedom of movement had become impossible under such heavy garb,” Brahms lamented. In 1980, at the Ancona Festival, Marc Andreae revivified the initial version, whose first movement possesses a mirthful pace unclouded by anxiety, transitioning directly to the Allegro di molto. The second movement Romanze imitates a Spanish love song, here without the ziemlich langsam adjustment that indicates only sadness.  The 1841 Scherzo proffers a presto movement, joyful and multi-layered.  The spontaneity of feeling extends to the brisk transition to the last movement, with no recapitulation that buttresses the 1851 version. Altogether, the 1841 Fourth Symphony expresses a grace and easy affection – what Nietzsche what call “Mediterranean light feet” – that entirely eludes the 1851 Fourth Symphony, whose dark utterances reflect the turmoil of the composer’s mind as he descended into a personal abyss.
Mendelssohn’s “Italian Symphony” (1831-1834) reflects his own happiness with the Florence and Rome that produced “the most joyous piece I have ever written.”  Typically, Mendelssohn persisted in amending his score, rife with “so many errata that I [had taken] it up again and I wrote out. . .many more improvements which it really needed.” The symphony appeared as a “final” score in 1851, four years after Mendelssohn’s untimely death. Conductor Andreae himself notes, in the course of wonderfully spontaneous Allegro vivace, his affection for the 22-bar transition to the first movement’s recapitulation.
The second movement Andante con moto omits the trumpets and tympani. A processional, the music pays homage to the passing of Wolfgang von Goethe and teacher Carl Friedrich Zelter, both dying in March of 1832. The anomalous gay sadness in this original version may presage what Brahms does in the “All Flesh is like Grass” movement from his A German Requiem. The ensuing Menuetto: Con moto grazioso bears resemblances to A Misdummer Night’s Dream and the German forests, in preference to those Italian. No tympani appear in the Trio section, once more aligning the music to the Shakespeare fantasy-music. The melodic curve seems truncated to us who know only the later version, but the lightness and grace of the effect cannot be denied.  The spirit of the dance infiltrates the last movement, Saltarello: Allegro di molto, which soon translates into a fierce tarantella, with its implications of white magic to dispel poison. We have enjoyed over an hour of “original” ideas, and the tour has been musically and imaginatively uplifting!
Gary Lemco


Klavierkonzert Op.54
Konzert-Allegro Op.134
Konzertstück für Klavier Op.86
Introduktion und Allegro Op.92
Bamberg Symphoniker
Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie
Gerard Opiitz, piano
Marc Andreae, dirigent



Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962)
Symphony in F major
Li-Tai-Pe, Eight Chinese Songs, Op.37
Concertino for oboe, Op.42

Benjamin Hulett, tenor
John Anderson, oboe
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Marc Andreae


This is the third volume (vol. 1; vol. 2) in the Volkmar Andreae series from Guild and it presents three world premiere recording, all presided over by the composer’s grandson, conductor Marc Andreae. Charting a chronological course we start with the Symphony in F major, which was completed in 1900 when the composer was barely twenty-one. It’s couched in four movements, conventionally-styled, and lasts 37 minutes in this performance. Though the booklet notes ask us not to make much of Brahms’s influence, this is surely an impossible instruction to follow. It’s like asking a cat not to chase a mouse. This is a very Brahmsian work, in terms of thematic development and sonority, and many passages will alert one to the influence of the older composer on the student one. Andreae shows a firm control of his material and handles orchestration well – brass, lower strings and percussion in particular. If there is another influence it’s not Bruckner, whom Andreae was years later to champion as a conductor and whose splendid symphonic cycle I reviewed not so very long ago - and hugely admired, I should add. The other influence, at least in terms of the writing for winds, is Dvořák. The most interesting features of the work are the rather sombre march theme in the second movement and the auburn string tone in the finale, before the emergence of a triumphant chorale-like theme, and the symphony’s quiet resolution. If the Symphony should be seen in the context of Andreae’s early development, Li-Tai-Pe, Eight Chinese Songs for tenor and orchestra, Op.37 is a product of his maturity. There’s considerable volatility here, both in terms of rhythmic vitality and also in the subtlety of the quietly reflective writing, deftly orchestrated, and illuminating the texts with real insight. The work suits the light tenor of Benjamin Hulett who negotiates the demands freshly and keenly. There are some moments of obvious chinoiserie in the wind writing but they are chosen to heighten the music, not to draw one’s ear for reasons of mere sonic titillation. The writing for strings is often refined and there are hints now and then of Mahler’s song cycles. All early performances of this work were given by the great Julius Patzak. The final work is the Concertino for oboe and orchestra, Op.42, composed in 1941. This is a lovely, rather pastoral work that flows and muses, enshrining a more active, dynamic B section in the opening of its three movements. A perky Rondo is followed by a felicitous folkloric finale. The performance by John Anderson is extremely fine and as throughout the disc he is most sympathetically supported by Marc Andreae. Of the three works the Concertino is the most easy-going, the songs the most stringent and complex. But it’s the Concertino that most seduced me and I have to say it’s rather amazing that it’s never before been recorded. Incidentally no less a figure than Richard Strauss was later to dedicate his own Oboe Concerto to Andreae. Uneven though this disc is, compositionally speaking (largely because of the Symphony), the third volume in this series brings with it very interesting and exciting features for the increasing number of Andreae admirers.
Jonathan Woolf

Guild’s single-handed Andreae project continues to shed enlightenment on the music of a man known, if at all, as a conductor of Swiss nationality. There are plenty of other examples of musicians prominently recognised as conductors but who also composed. The roster includes Klemperer, Walter, Goossens, Furtwängler and Weingartner. Who knows; in years to come some of them may attain the status of being known primarily as composers who also happened to conduct. The present Symphony is his first and one that despite its evident merits the composer remained dissatisfied with. He omitted to attach an opus number to it. It does not have the mien of a youthful indiscretion. Its demeanour is that of a no holds barred epic with a 12 minute Adagio mined from an imaginative seam of the highest quality. There is a flighty Intermezzo that in part reminded me of Brahms’ Third Symphony but which has all the effervescence of Mendelssohn’s Italian. The finale continues the serenely confident mood of that remarkable Adagio but with a shuddering energy reminiscent of Schumann’s Fourth Symphony. Speaking of confidence: Andreae takes the risk of ending on a sustained smiling downbeat. The Li-Tai-Pe songs are for tenor and orchestra and date from three decades after the symphony. These Chinese poems were published in translation by Hans Bethge in 1907. The same collection also found favour to even greater fame with Gustav Mahler whose Das Lied von der Erde set poems from the same source. These are also the same poems that in English translations attracted settings by Bliss, Lambert, Arthur Oldham and Reginald Redman, although they referred to the poet as Li-Tai-Po. As with the 1900 symphony the music is tonal but now the Brahmsian weeds have been cast off in favour of greater transparency. Generally the textures are more open and even impressionistic - all birdsong, butterfly wings, drifting clouds and swooning moons. Not only has Andreae learnt from Mahler but also from Zemlinsky in his Lyric Symphony. After the sinister intimations of The Dance on the Cloud comes the utterly lovely Abschied. Then there’s the subtle and expressionistic melancholy of The Great White Egret,the final words of which are “I stand lonely by the edge of the pond / Peering silently across the land.” Shades of Warlock’s Curlew. The words are most sensitively sung by Benjamin Hulett. The Oboe Concertino dates from the darkest depths of the Second World War. This is a work of reflective contentment with long sun-warmed lyrical lines and dancing delight. It is strikingly attractive with no obstacles to appreciation. Parts of it reminded me of Othmar Schoeck’s magical Sommernacht. The supporting notes are by Robert Matthew-Walker and these are also given in German translation. Guild’s Volkmar Andreae Edition has already given us the concertos, the 1919 symphony, the piano trios, the string and flute quartets and some of the songs. I do hope that there will be more Andreae to come from this source. There’s an opera Ratcliff and various works for voices and orchestra.
Rob Barnett


Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962)
Klavierkonzert in D
Konzertstück in b Moll
Violinkonzert in f Moll, op.40
Rhapsodie, op.32
Fali Pavri, piano
Christian Altenburger, violin
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Marc Andreae


Neue Zürcher Zeitung 03 January 2013
"Diese erstmals auf CD veröffentlichte Musik gehört ins Konzertrepertoire neben die Konzerte von Schoeck, Korngold oder sogar Alban Berg. Die durchwegs vortrefflichen Interpretationen sind von grosser Noblesse."


Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962)
Symphony in C, op.31
Notturno and Scherzo, op.30
Music for Orchestra, op.35
Kleine Suite, op.27
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
Marc Andreae


The Times 04 February 2012
"It's typically Swiss, perhaps, to overlook one of your country's major composers to such an extent that the first commercial recording of his finest works has been made by a British orchestra (albeit with Swiss money). Volkmar Andreae not only conducted the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra for 40 years, but also wrote luscious music reminiscent of Franck, Stravinsky and Strauss, yet with a zest all its own. Conducted by Marc, his grandson, this selection includes his remarkable First Symphony and the dramatic Music for Orchestra, which seems like the soundtrack for some undisclosed melodrama. A delightful rediscovery." Richard Morrison
© 2012 Times Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved