This is a really superb new release from cpo which completes their Krenek Symphony cycle, in progress for about 20 years.
The symphony No 4 is one of Krenek's late works, composed after he had returned to the symphony after a long break. Commentary on this symphony seems to describe it as tonal, but it still has a very modern sound. I understand the first two movements mainly as free counterpoint, organized around a series of musical motifs that are at the core of the music. The orchestration is very colorful and skillfully done and an extended fugato passage at the end of the first movements is one of the high points in this symphony. In the finale the contrapuntal working-out of the music tends to give way to more dramatic, almost apocalyptic gestures, with a very dramatic close.
The Concerto Grosso #2 is an earlier work, written at a time when Krenek was influenced by the neoclassicism of Stravinsky and others. The general organization of the music is very similar to a Baroque concerto grosso, with identifiable concertino and ripieno sections. Here the music alternates between passages which are very classical in harmony and passages which seem very chromatic. The three fast movements evoke for me Handel's Concerti, but the really glory of this work is the pair of slow movements. They overflow with exquisitely dissonant harmony, beautifully orchestrated with wonderful use of trumpets and horns. Really something extraordinary.
The audio engineering is typical for the cpo label. Very detailed and perfectly balanced (although I would prefer a bit more of a sense of the hall). The orchestra plays beautifully under the direction of Alun Francis.