Classical World Music by HEINRICH SCHWEIZER – Various artists – Gallo 1284, 70:02 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
This being the first exposure I have had to this composer, at first I really did not know what to make of him; the title itself on this album seemed a little pretentious and turn-offish: “Classical Worldmusic.” What in the world could that mean, what kind of composer is even capable of composing music that represents—at least in a token manner if not authentically—music from all over the world?, and was this going to be another abortive effort at watered-down PC music that so grates my all-too-pure musical consciousness. Well, to start with, Schweizer is all over the map in terms of his influences, and characterizes much of his music in terms of descriptive prowess, Chinese Youth, West African Drums, or even Homage to William Booth. Hardly your run-of-the-mill titles, even for a collection as diverse as this. But as I began listening—grudgingly I admit—he started to win me over, especially as I began listening to these many diverse pieces—in terms of orchestration and ensemble requirements—as music independent of this “world” association.
Now perhaps this is not fair to the composer; he does in fact specifically mention that this collection was assembled for those who like “classical world music”, but I really don’t care. Does anyone in our reading audience even know what this connotation is supposed to mean? I don’t, and in his favor I think that such labeling does his music a disservice. Taken one piece at a time, and even though I do in all fairness, despite the evident complexity of some of the pieces here, have to assign this album to “light” music status (how’s that for a stereotype?), it is also engaging to the nth degree, wonderfully melodic and memorable, and a sure antidote for those modern music lovers searching for someone who just plain loves great melody and beautiful sounds and is really good at producing it.
The sound on each of these tracks is wonderful, and that is really remarkable considering the different ensembles at play, from string quartet to full orchestra, to piano and vocal songs to brass ensemble and organ—with other permutations as well—but each was captured by engineers that knew what they were doing. As usual with Gallo, the notes stink to high heaven, and not a word about Schweizer at all, though through the web I was able to find out that he was born in 1943 got his musical training in his native country (Switzerland), and became proficient on the violin, clarinet, bassoon, and piano. This is an album to clear the cobwebs and make you remember why you love music—and it works!
The Pentatonic, sinfonietta for orchestra
Chinese Youth, for children’s chorus (after Sri Chinmoy)
World-Harmony-Run, for children’s chorus (after Sri Chinmoy)
Flower Meadow, for oboe, English horn & string orchestra
String Quartet No. 2
Three Movements for harp & woodwind quintet
Four Songs for voice & piano
African Journey, for xylophone
West African Drums
Homage to William Booth
Metamorphosis, for brass ensemble & organ
Concertino for oboe & orchestra
Hadlaub, symphonic sketches for orchestra
A rich reflections into Rachmaninoff’s oeuvre