Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Richard HOL (1825 – 1904)
Symphony No. 2 in D Minor, Op. 41) (1866)
Symphony No. 4 in A Major, (1889)
Residentie Orchestra The Hague – Matthias Bamert
recorded 21 – 23/3/01, in the Dr. Anton Philipszaal, The Hague, The Netherlands - DDD
CHANDOS CHAN 9952 [62.35]

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Both of these recordings are World Premieres and they give us a very welcome chance to try out a new composer who writes in a very tonal style, and is an excellent orchestrator. Given the date of composition you almost know what to expect before starting to listen to this disc. The earlier issue (coupling 1 & 3 – CHAN 9796) was not too well received in other quarters [review], and I approached this disc with some trepidation. I am happy to say that my initial expectations were more than turned over, and whilst the present works are no world-shattering masterpieces, they are very welcome additions to the catalogue.

Matthias Bamert does his usual first class job as conductor, and the orchestra gives what appear to be excellent performances. The Chandos recording is well up to the normal house standard, so Richard Hol has just about as good advocacy as he could possibly expect. Chandos is in the process of uncovering for us some of the Dutch repertoire (is there such a thing?, I can hear many say). I can vouch for some of the orchestral works produced by Dutch composers who desperately need further exposure. Hendrik Andriessen is one – he has written four superb symphonies – Haitink and the Concertgebouw did No 4 at the Proms in the 1980s which was very well received. In addition, the current orchestra issued two sets of vinyl recordings of Dutch repertoire in the late 70s, subsequently transferred to CD by Olympia in 8 volumes – well worth investigating if you can get hold of copies. Chandos is now taking up the baton, and I hope that it will be a successful series for them. Bamert’s previous series of Contemporaries of Mozart seemed to do well. Maybe there is an interested body of collectors out there who will support this series – I certainly hope so.

Robert Hol made his name in the Netherlands in the mid 19th Century, primarily by his academic work. He was hailed as composer, conductor, organist, pianist and had a great influence on the musical life of his country. He graduated from the Royal Music School in Amsterdam in 1844 and began his career by accompanying the vocal and instrumental soloists of the day at the piano, and also by teaching. He developed his conducting career, primarily as a choral conductor, although he was active with orchestral repertoire as well. He started composing, again mainly for choir and solo vocal music, and some of these works became staple diet for large numbers of singers during the latter half of the 19th Century. His oeuvre for orchestra was much smaller, and the series of four symphonies now recorded by Chandos form the greater part of this output.

Hol’s second symphony (influenced by Mendelssohn and Schubert) is a traditional sonata form movement preceded by a slow introduction. There then follows a slow movement, dark and prayerful, which makes quite an impression. We then have a presto, which is in the style of a Mendelssohnian scherzo, and this is followed by the very lively finale, quite out of character for what one might expect to come out of Holland.

The fourth symphony is receiving here what seems to be its first performance. It was never published, and for this recording, the symphony was produced from the newly published score, based on the autograph. It starts with another slow introduction and then moves on in a spirited fashion which recalls the music of Dvorak. A presto scherzo follows which is full of life and great fun. The third movement, a deeply felt adagio partially in the style of Brahms follows and this I found to be especially moving. The Allegro vivace finale, again in the style of Mendelssohn, rounds off the work. Thus we come to the end of a very enjoyable disc.


John Phillips

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