REINECKE: Harp Concerto in E Minor, Op. 182; Symphony No. 3 in G Minor, Op. 227 – Elsie Bedleem, harp/ Brandenburg State Orchestra, Frankfurt/ Herbert Beissel – Christophorus CHE 0162-2, 59:33 [Distr. By Qualiton) ****:
Carl Reinecke (1824-1910) over the course of a creative lifetime aroused the attentions of Mendelssohn, Schumann, Berlioz, and Liszt, each of whom admired Reinecke’s pianism, his musical memory and acuity, and the richness of his own musical invention. Ten years separate the composition of the E Minor Harp Concerto (1884) and the Third Symphony (1894), and each maintains its idiosyncratic character while adding to the central German romantic tradition established by Mendelssohn and Schumann. A decided optimism and cheerfulness of spirit infuses Reinecke’s works, music that luxuriates in melodic beauty and energetic freshness.
Set in a lush, romantic idiom, the Harp Concerto (rec. April 2001) rivals Mozart’s K. 299 Concerto for Flute and Harp in scale and bravura display. The orchestra’s melodic tissue provides a muscular setting for the harp’s runs and glissandi in a style we can easily discern influenced one of Reinecke’s major pupils, Max Bruch. No accident, then, the prominence of flute part after an extended orchestral tutti if we recall that Reinecke composed cadenzas for the Mozart opus. The first movement cadenza projects a diaphanous tissue that might have influenced Debussy’s Sacred and Profane Dances. Harp and horn open the affecting Adagio, which in its sinuous melodic curve and “oriental” middle section suggests an exotic moment from Saint-Saens. The Scherzo-Finale adds a decided color element to the dance element, which often borders on a Spanish habanera or fandango in militant cloth. Again, the flute cavorts with the harp in most ingenious, quasi-balletic colloquy. The gorgeous sound image comes courtesy of engineer Manfred Goebel.
Reinecke composed his G Minor Symphony in Leipzig in 1894. Its aggressive first movement sounds like a combination of Russian energy and aspects of Mendelssohn’s The First Walpurgis-Night. At moments, we might ascribe the athletically vibrant melos to the academic side of Kalinnikov. The martial main theme proves tailor-made for fugal development. The smooth transitions enjoy the security of design we find in late Dvorak.
The Andante sostenuto possesses an elegiac grandeur which Reinecke spins out without strain or rhetorical padding. The late pages assume a mystery and dignity we ascribe to Bruckner or at least Wagner’s influence. Schumann would seem the likely model for the Scherzo, though the rhythmic thrusts we know from the Russians and even Lalo. The trumpet suddenly emerges as a major voice, along with some tympanic interest. A false cadence leads to a kind of epilogue that features an elegant flute aria before the rustic dance rhythm carries to the sinewy coda. The grand finale offers another theme in the Mendelssohn mode that permits polyphonic exploitation without descending into a school-book exercise. The Brandenburg Orchestra’s bass fiddles make their presence known in the midst of some fine-spun trills in the soprano strings. A fierce momentum drives the subject and its clarion work in the winds and horns to a luxuriant peroration in the heroic mold that retains sincerity and ardent poise.
A rich reflections into Rachmaninoff’s oeuvre