Boris PAPANDOPULO (1906-1991)
Piano Concerto No. 3 (1959) [29:32]
Violin Concerto (1942) [45:49]
Oliver Triendl (piano) Dan Zhu (violin)
Rijeka Opera Orchestra/Ville Matvejeff
rec. 6-13 June 2016, HNK Ivan pl. Zajc Rijeka CPO 555 100-2 [67:31]
Croatian composer Boris Papandopulo was born in Honnef
am Rhein and died in Zagreb. Born of privileged and artistically-inclined
parents he rose to a position of eminence in the Croatian musical world.
There's a great deal of his music but he is reputed to have lost
interest in much of it after completion.
His composition master was Blagoje Bersa - he of the orchestral piece
Sunny Fields. Leading posts in Zagreb's opera house
and radio orchestra sustained him before, during and after WWII. He
also guest conducted the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. As a composer, he
was sympathetic to large and noble symphonic structures; not that he
was short of humour. There are three operas, three ballets, various
concertos, chamber music and piano pieces. A selection of the piano
music has been recorded by Nicholas
Phillips and issued on Albany. Mike Herman mentions his Symphonies
Nos. 1 (1930) and 2 (1946) and a clutch of three other named symphonies
from the 1980s.
There's a handful of various major piece for voice(s) and orchestra
including a Croatian Mass which has been recorded. Jim Samson
in his excellent and lavishly detailed book "Music in the Balkans"
(2013, Brill) speaks of Papandopulo as "formidably gifted and prolific".
Samson mentions his works in the same breath as the Adriatic Symphony
(1940) by Krsto Odak, memorable for its glittering sea visions. Papandopulo
and CPO are not new partners as can be gathered from useful reviews
of the label's other earlier CD (review
The three movement Piano Concerto No. 3 is open-textured, tonal, clever,
cool, engaging, entertaining and feel-good. With a touch of Ravel and
of Kodaly, it's implacably and flashily sinister with a rhythmically
propulsive first movement. This is followed by a sighingly-nocturnal
fairy-tale Andante. The finale picks up on the 'cool cat'
mood of the first movement - a Croatian 'take' on Malcolm
Arnold or George Gershwin.
The big-boned lyrico-dramatic Violin Concerto is again in three movements.
Its intense and deeply laid-on romantic style is related to Miaskovsky's
Concerto of 1938 although its themes are not quite as memorable as those
in the Miaskovsky. There's also a touch of the Sibelius and the
even if the folk element is more tacit than in the superb Ivanovs. The
brass have a stormily mordant edge and a feral brilliance at the end
of first movement. The central Andante sostenuto is placid,
serene and spiritually tempered. It's a measured and melancholy
smile of a movement. The finale has the character of a city in festival
with Rimskian touches along the way and a fiery close.
Both Oliver Triendl and Dan Zhu with orchestra and conductor are majestically
apt for the task of reviving this barely known music. As for the recording
it short-changes neither the musicians nor the listener. The liner-notes
are by Davor Merkas and are in German and English.
We need to hear more Boris Papandopulo - perhaps the two numbered symphonies.
While we are on the subject of Croatian music CPO would do well to take
a close look at Krsto Odak's Adriatic Symphony (1940).