Thursday 27 August 2020

Review: A Very Nice Composer

It's a delight to discover a 'new' composer, the irony being that this composer's lack of fame was directly attributed to his lack of 'newness': Carl Reinecke (1824-1910, born in Altona, Hamburg, then under Danish rule).

Carl Reinecke Symphonies 1 & 3; Plus, music from the opera, 'King Manfred'. Munchner R├╝ndfunkorchester, c., Henry Raudales. CPO

A man who avoided anything brash, outspoken, outlandish, he was cast in the mold of an upholder of the classical tradition. For a considerable part of his prodigious career, this went well, but by the end - as iconoclasts Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler took to the stage - this did not continue, his music then cast as academic and stuck in the classical groove.

Reinecke's orchestral music is superbly crafted with no consequent lack of passion, grace, force and expression. If you enjoy a great symphony, try the two found on this CD. Always feeling in the shadow of other musical greats and geniuses, Reinecke humbly dedicated himself to the service of music, as conductor, director, composer and author, the pinnacle of his career taking place in Leipzig at the Gewandhaus and Conservatory, where as a shy Danish boy he sought out the musical director, Felix Mendelssohn. Reinecke eventually became head of the finest orchestra of his day at the Gewandhaus.

 For some reason he offended Johannes Brahms who wrote of his third symphony, "Everything is so coarse and ill-bred!" Clear nonsense and damaging. To make way for the new, Reinecke was sidelined, but his considerable repertoire is waiting to be fully rediscovered and appreciated as, to quote another reviewer, "His works are distinguished by nobility and form, melodic euphony and ingenious artistic construction."