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5.0 out of 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars

on 17 March 2014
Volkmar Andreae was a Swiss musician who was so highly regarded as a conductor that he was invited to succeed Mahler as the New York Philharmonic's music director in 1911. He was particularly renowned as a Bruckner interpreter and a complete set of the symphonies is available on disc.

Andreae was also a composer and this disc collects four of his concertante works, all conducted by his grandson, Marc. The Piano Concerto (1898) and the "Konzertstuck" are student works and were not published. There is no real individuality to them. The influence of Grieg in the concerto is apparent. This work is in three movements played virtually attacca. The first is a sonata structure built on three conventional but well contrasted themes, a turbulent opening idea, a chorale-like tune first heard on the woodwind and a lyrical melody for the piano. The music runs out of steam at the end of the exposition necessitating a sudden return to the original tempo...a common problem. The development is less compelling than you expect since it largely ignores the turbulent idea, gently ruminating on the other ideas instead. Another "a tempo" marks the beginning of the recapitulation which is regular.

Andreae holds a bassoon note over and woodwind chords modulate into the key of the slow movement. (This is an idea stolen from Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto, of course.) The melodic material of this movement is not distinctive but it is poetically treated. A solo violin has the tune at the beginning of the final section and there is an attractive coda built on material from the central section.

The finale is rather disappointing. Again the melodic material is of no great interest. Furthermore, the movement is sloppily constructed and there is virtually no attempt at development.

This concerto is not unattractive, then, but its profile is not strong enough to warrant frequent hearings.

The "Konzertstuck" from only two years later is a far more assured and compelling work. It is a sonata structure with an introduction and a drastically truncated recapitulation. You won't be disappointed by the full-blooded second subject. The "Konzertstuck" is nothing you haven't heard before but it is totally irresistible all the same.

The concise 20 minute Violin Concerto, Op.40 is much later. It dates from 1935 and, although it is divided into three tracks here, it is clearly in four sections. Once you get past the self-consciously dissonant harmonies of the opening (it sounds like the soundtrack of a Hollywood melodrama) you will encounter music which is continuously evolving and full of striking melodic ideas. It is far more sophisticated structurally than the two works for piano. This violin concerto really is a very fine work indeed which you should not overlook.

The 12 minute "Rhapsodie" for violin and orchestra (1919-1920) is also an excellent piece. Make sure, at a first hearing, that you pick up the opening seven note phrase since much of the ensuing music is derived from it. The central "Allegro molto" is built on catchy ideas and is notably well sustained. The piece is only slightly let down by a little too much virtuoso padding in its final section.

Both soloists and the orchestra play well and the recording is very good. For the Violin Concerto in particular I can confidently recommend this disc though, be warned, for a while you won't be able to stop playing the "Konzertstuck"!
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