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Hermann SUTER (1870-1926)
Symphony in D minor Op. 17 (1914) [44.27]
Hans JELMOLI (1877-1936)

Three Pieces for orchestra from the lyrical comedy 'His Legacy' (1904/1912) [16.48]
Moscow SO/Adriano
rec. Mosfilm Studios, Aug 2002 (Suter); Jan 2003 (Jelmoli) DDD
world premiere recording (Jelmoli); first stereo and first CD recording (Suter)
STERLING CDS-1052-2[61.15]



Bo Hyttner's Sterling label opens up another vein in symphonic music: the music of Hermann Suter one of the Swiss traditionalists. From the same genre Sterling have already recorded the eight symphonies of Hans Huber written between 1881 and 1921. Awaiting appraisal are the two symphonies by Robert Hermann (1895, 1906), Fritz Brun's ten (1901-1953), Robert Oboussier's 1936 symphony and Walther Geiser's symphony of 1953.

The four movement symphony was written on the cusp of the Great War and was premiered in Zürich and Basel in 1915. Suter's friend the composer-conductor Siegmund von Hausegger (who, according to Adriano, wrote a splendid Natur-Sinfonie) conducted the work in Berlin in 1916. Performances also took place in Hamburg (1917) and Leipzig (1918).

After a rather overcast and unruly nebuloso and marziale e fiero first movement in which the exemplar is surely Richard Strauss comes a witty and bombastic Capriccio militaresco. The brass choir have that commanding ruptured aureate tone that mediates the defiant and the heroic. The glowing prayer-like adagio has writing for the violins that may well have coloured Othmar Schoeck's Sommernacht. The Rondo finale has a modicum of the levity of the second movement coupled with a romantic striving that sounds like a strenuous Schumann. The brass are recorded with satisfying emphasis so if you love brilliantly recorded trumpets, trombones and horns you must not miss this even if a certain heaviness afflicts the finale. The mood changes from movement to movement spell an eccentric work. Otherwise this is certainly something to enjoy.

Suter was a pupil of Huber. He found a modern intensity of expression that eluded Huber almost completely. Our appetites have now been sharpened by the experience of the Symphony to hear the 1921 Violin Concerto as well as the highly regarded oratorio, Le Laudi di San Francesco d'Assisi.

The three pieces by Jelmoli follow after too short a gap. They are the equivalent of the light incidental music of Roger Quilter and Norman O'Neill in England or of Massenet and Fauré in France. This is music written in the nature of an intermède or entr'acte. One can easily imagine Beecham falling for the elegant charm of Jelmoli's Intermède Lyrique.

An idiosyncratic Straussian symphony contrasted with a bonne-bouche suite. Both novelties.

Rob Barnett

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